This book first arose out of a passage in [Jorge Luis] Borges, out of the laughter that shattered, as I read the passage, all the familiar landmarks of my thought—our thought that bears the stamp of our age and our geography—breaking up all the ordered surfaces and all the planes with which we are accustomed to tame the wild profusion of existing things, and continuing long afterwards to disturb and threaten with collapse our age-old distinction between the Same and the Other. This passage quotes a ‘certain Chinese encyclopaedia’ in which it is written that ‘animals are divided into: (a) belonging to the Emperor, (b) embalmed, (c) tame, (d) suckling pigs, (e) sirens, (f) fabulous, (g) stray dogs, (h) included in the present classification, (i) frenzied, (j) innumerable, (k) drawn with a very fine camelhair brush, (l) et cetera, (m) having just broken the water pitcher, (n) that from a long way off look like flies’. In the wonderment of this taxonomy, the thing we apprehend in one great leap, the thing that, by means of the fable, is demonstrated as the exotic charm of another system of thought, is the limitation of our own, the stark impossibility of thinking that.” – Michel Foucault, The Order of Things (New York: Pantheon, 1970) xv.
Quote of the week
At other channels, the prestigious news anchor position is generally filled by a journalist with substantial field experience. What ANN7 is proving daily is that there is a gaping chasm of difference between “being able to read” and “being able to read the news live on national TV”. No doubt the channel’s young women will improve with time, but at the moment their delivery is in some cases almost incomprehensible, as if they were reading a recipe in Klingon. Their weather girls may need additional tuition in geography; one gave the temperatures for both Polokwane and Pietersburg on Sunday. Another allegedly pointed firmly at Botswana while discussing Mpumalanga. Rebecca Davis of Daily Maverick on the launch of a new 24 hour news channel.
The strategic planners around Zuma probably did want to get rid of Vavi and saw the sexual misconduct as an opportunity to do so with the least costs to Alliance strength and unity. However a result that leads to Numsa splitting from Cosatu might end up being catastrophic for Zuma and his allies. Numsa is the best organised and most militant union in Cosatu. It already effectively competes with Num (at Medupi for example) and if it were to set itself up in competition to other Cosatu unions the platinum sector circa-2012 could, conceivably, end up looking like a labour-relations picnic. Such a split could also cause unforeseeable disruptions of the ANC’s electoral support, conceivably leading to a political realignment and possibly to formation of a ‘left’ or ‘workers’ party. However, the Zuma administration and the central ANC leadership is desperately trying to unite the constituent elements of the Alliance behind the National Development Plan – partly in an attempt to prove to global capital markets and other investors that the ANC is serious about creating a settled environment for investment, and partly because it appears to believes that plan is the right path to ensure increased levels of economic growth and employment. Numsa sees the NDP as a direct extensions of the ‘neoliberal’ Growth, Employment and Redistribution macroeconomic policy. – Nic Borain
But the problem was wider than the status of teaching, [Nomalanga] Mkhize maintained, and came down to the general value of education. How was it, Mkhize asked, that “education came to be treated with such disrespect and disdain by the educated black professionals who administer it and why on earth was there no parents’ uprising?” One reason for the devaluing of education could be that “other forms of social advancement, particularly political association”, now offer a quicker route to improve the class prospects of black people than education does. This is a point that University of the Free State Rector Jonathan Jansen also made last year; a problem, he says, is that there is now “a visible lack of connection between education and economic well-being” in many communities. – Report by Rebecca Davis of Daily Maverick on Education in South Africa
As soon as Zuma began to look good in his job [as Deputy President], mediating the conflict in the Great Lakes and making bold statements on HIV/Aids, Mbeki began to get uncomfortable. This led to the bizarre allegations of a plot to oust Mbeki – Ramaphosa was supposedly one of the conspirators – all of which proved to be nonsense. But Mbeki’s paranoia led to a peculiar media statement from Zuma in 2001 when he denied he had designs on the presidency. Still Mbeki perceived Zuma as a threat, which led to the extraordinary course of events over the next eight years until Mbeki’s recall from office. – Ranjeni Munusamy at Daily Maverick
[Julius] Malema’s story is powerful because it is deep and it is true. There is a resounding dissonance in this country. Politically, we are equal, and that comes from the present. Socially, we are anything but equal, and that comes from the past. Malema says it better than anyone, and that is why he is in our thoughts.- Jonny Steinberg in Business Day
“It’s true, I like to spend, and I’m not an angel, but unlike politicians, I’m not spending taxpayers’ money. My real point is that, as a socialite and a businessman, I meet many people, including politicians. When they speak to your face, Mr President, they tell you your imperial clothes are very stylish. When they talk to me, and feel they are safe from your army of spies, most of them admit that you, the emperor, have no clothes.” – Kenny Kunene in an open letter to President Jacob Zuma
Quotas and targets for redress are necessary. But, because they are so politically useful, securing as they do the compliance and loyalty of elites and the middle class to the ANC, it is easy to be blinded to the negative consequences for the poor. A clear case of a good quota that will have positive long term outcomes is UCTs admission criteria, which is succeeding in producing more black and women graduates who will service society well in the coming decades. But the negative consequences of misapplied quotas and targets are also with us. – Jack Lewis at GroundUp
Opposition to tolls has become a badge of civic virtue. Those who reject them invoke democratic slogans and insist they are fighting an attempt by big government to stamp on the citizenry, rich and poor alike. Opposing the tolls is assumed to show that you are willing to take on the powerful in support of social justice and the poor. To support them is to invite being labelled a government lackey, a friend of tyranny or one who despises the poor. All of which is odd, as e-tolling is a standard exercise in progressive taxation, which is usually supported by those considering themselves friends of the poor. – Steven Friedman in Business Day