Tag Archives: power

South Africa reboot?

In the course of all the hype around “Rhodes must fall”, I started wondering about the logic underpinning the direction in which it has been developing, which seems to indicate that — as some commentators have indicated — nothing less than South Africa “falling” would satisfy those driving the process of destroying all vestiges of…

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The Rhodes statue, erasing the past and importance of memory

The Czech writer Milan Kundera begins his unforgettable novel, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (Perennial Classics, 1999), with the following words: “In February 1948, the Communist leader Klement Gottwald stepped out on the balcony of a Baroque palace in Prague to harangue hundreds of thousands of citizens massed in Old Town Square. That was…

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A novel that can teach us how to rebel against the colonisation of the mind

What do you get when you project the present media-saturated and media-sustained global economic-political hegemony into the future? You get a society where the kind of colonisation of the mind, brought about mainly through mainstream media’s incessant distribution of standardised discourses affirming the nonsense, that there is “no alternative” to neoliberal capitalism, is exacerbated to…

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Racism, sexism and homophobia: Which prejudice is worse?

By Matthew Beetar Racism is more of a problem than sexism. But sexism is more of a problem than xenophobia, which is less of a problem — occasionally — than homophobia. Transphobia we deal with sometimes, and ageism — what is that even? And dealing with ableism — let’s not take this “reconciliation” thing too…

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Racism in SA is real and it matters

By Andrew Ihsaan Gasnolar We have seen the distractions all around us. We have been confronted with a great deal of flash but not much substance: from the protection orders urgently brought (and then discharged), to the newsletters from Helen Zille to the battle between a Chester and Ms Zille. However, this sideshow distracts us…

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Ethics always comes too late for power

If there is one lesson I have learned from Foucault, it is this: Ethics always comes too late for power. What I mean by this is that human beings – even philosophers – have a tendency to rationalise, in ethical or moral terms, about the actual decisions and choices one makes in the world, and…

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‘House of Cards’: Machiavelli and Shakespeare all in one

In this South African season of political ambitions, would you like to know what principles the Florentine philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli advised aspiring political leaders — specifically “princes” — to adhere to ruthlessly in the 16th century in his famous (or is it notorious) treatise, The Prince (1515)? Or what Shakespeare, holding up the mirror to…

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Spaces of power and spaces of gentleness

Today we experienced two kinds of space that are diametrically opposed, or mutually exclusive. The first was the palace and gardens of Versailles, known as the residence of a succession of French kings, of whom Louis XIV and Louis XVI are probably the best known (the latter with his equally well-known queen, Marie-Antoinette, who was…

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Are we facing an ethical vacuum today?

In Living in the End Times (Verso, 2010, p. 324), the man who has been described as the “most dangerous philosopher in the West” (New Republic), Slavoj Žižek, makes the following remark: “The task [today] is to restore civility, not a new ethical substance. Civility is not the same as custom (in the strong sense…

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Total Recall and the neverending dream of liberation from oppression

I sometimes wonder whether people have noticed that many movies (as well as novels and short stories, which are not my concern here) thematise the fight for liberation from some or other dictatorial regime that oppresses people, often depicted as the working class. Just off the top of my head I can think of several:…

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