Quote of the week

[Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro] possesses, however, few of his predecessor’s resources, lacking not just oil revenue but Chávez’s surplus of charisma, humour and political skill. Maduro, unable to end the crisis, has increasingly sided with the privileged classes against the masses; his security forces are regularly dispatched into barrios to repress militants under the guise of fighting crime. Having lost its majority in Congress, the government, fearing it can’t win at the polls the way Chávez did, cancelled gubernatorial elections that had been set for December last year (though they now appear to be on again). Maduro has convened an assembly to write a new constitution, supposedly with the objective of institutionalising the power of social movements, though it is unlikely to lessen the country’s polarisation.

Greg Grandin
London Review of Books
30 January 2008

(Not) talking about race in South Africa

Eusebius McKaiser has an excellent piece in the Business Day this morning in which he argues that we need to talk about race, rather than avoid talking about it. Money Quote:

[We] have an irrational fear of race discourse that must be abandoned. White South Africans, in particular, fear that mere talk about “black” and “white” implies that we cannot relate to each other as individuals. This fear is understandable. But it is also hasty.

What is beautiful about human relations is the natural curiosity we have to explore the shades of differences between ourselves — appearances, personalities, intelligence, ideologies, etc. The value pluralism on which our liberal democracy is based stems explicitly from an acceptance that differences need not be divisive.

The eruption of violence in Skielik speaks to the fact that when we let differences fester like a wound we would rather not attend to, we could lose part of our national body — like the four innocent citizens of Skielik.

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