Why South Africa Keeps Repeating Its Mistakes

It is: not the particulars of the argument under dispute at the moment that we have a problem with, but rather the whole measure of dialogue and debate currently dominating public dialogue. If one does not confront through self reflection the issues involved in accurately describing our realities, we will continue with fatuous arguments and accusations in the rush to assassinate characters, and not ideas.

The one thing nobody can really argue with despite the official denials that shriek through the air (one is reminded of the shrill voice of the Secretay General of the SACP, the Honourable Blade Nzimande, castigating his opponents and detractors) . There is a void in our thinking on a world wide scale where political correctness not only resolves the many big questions facing humankind, but even worse preventing critical dialogue concerning these factors that have as if by decree been ruled out of bounds:

* Questioning the appropriateness of democracy in certain contexts and stages of development

* Cultural relativism and the denial of particularities and, even, their extinction or subjection.

* The inevitability of globalism rather than its transformation and even possible rejection as anything other than economic integration in certain particularities

* Character assassination as the dominant mode of political debate. Put someone down to put yourself up. (ref; Between Ideals and Reality)

* Grand plans. Short term solutions to long term problems.

* Denial of stark realities, Still reacting to the real and imagined humiliation heaped on people during the colonial and apartheid eras rather than confronting the task ahead.

* The obsession with transformation rather than the process of mobilising our people toward transformation. It is a process not a destination.

Peter Franks is Professor Extraordinary in the School of Public Leadership at University of Stellenbosch in South Africa.

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