Posted inEqualityGeneralNews/Politics

Protest and phatic communication: An account of a South African conversation

“Are you going to write about this week’s protests?”, the writer asks as the waitress takes away his empty plate from the table in the Newlands restaurant where they have been enjoying a sunny Cape Town Sunday lunch. “No”, the professor of private law replies tersely. “What’s the use?”, he thinks to himself, before continuing: […]

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Michel Houellebecq and the dialectics of nihilism

Michel Houellebecq’s monumental novel, Atomised, is one of the most honest, brutal and haunting books of the 21st century when it comes to a consideration of the destructive dialectics of society. Through the main characters, Bruno and Michel, Houellebecq makes his argument that humanity today has arrived at the edge of the abyss, that there […]

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The spectrality of Ayn Rand

‘Ayn Rand’s fascination for male figures displaying absolute, unswayable determination of their Will, seems to offer the best imaginable confirmation of Sylvia Plath’s famous line, “Every woman adores a Fascist”.’ With this controversial sentence, Slavoj Zizek mounts his defence of what he calls the “actuality” of Ayn Rand. Zizek reads the above sentence as a […]

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‘Racism without races’

In the late eighties French thinker Etienne Balibar wrote an essay in which he considered the question of “neo-racism”, that is, a form of racism that is distinct from earlier models. Balibar’s point of departure is a description of racism as inscribing itself in “practices (forms of violence, contempt, intolerance, humiliation and exploitation), in discourses […]

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Contract law, good faith and the Constitution

On November 17, the Constitutional Court delivered its judgment in the case of Everfresh Market Virginia v Shoprite Checkers. The case involved the validity of a clause in a lease agreement between the parties. The relevant clause provided that the lessee would have a “right to renew” the lease if it “faithfully and timeously” fulfilled […]

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Arendt, forgiveness, accountability and punishment

Much confusion reigns when it comes to Hannah Arendt’s position on the relationship between forgiveness and punishment. The reason why this confusion warrants clarification has much to do with our post-conflict context in which the question of forgiveness keeps coming up along with questions of vengeance, the right to punish as well as the need […]

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Exiling the poets

Many of us were shocked on Sunday last when we turned the front page of the Afrikaans Sunday paper Rapport, to see the horrific image on page two of the Yemeni poet, Walid Mohamed Ahmed al-Ramisi, who had his tongue cut off as a result of his criticisms of the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) — the opposition coalition in […]

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Religion and hate crimes

How dare I attribute the blame for the continuation of hate crimes against lesbians in South Africa to religion? The Bible preaches love and prohibits murder. How can I make the sweeping statement that religion is complicit in the perpetration of hate crimes? And my personal favourite: how can a law professor use this blog […]