Quote of the week

An ‘important purpose of section 34 [of the Constitution] is to guarantee the protection of the judicial process to persons who have disputes that can be resolved by law’ and that the right of access to court is ‘foundational to the stability of an orderly society. It ensures the peaceful, regulated and institutionalised mechanisms to resolve disputes, without resorting to self-help. The right of access to court is a bulwark against vigilantism, and the chaos and anarchy which it causes. Construed in this context of the rule of law and the principle against self-help in particular, access to court is indeed of cardinal importance’.The right guaranteed s34 would be rendered meaningless if court orders could be ignored with impunity:the underlying purposes of the right — and particularly that of avoidance of self-help — would be undermined if litigants could decide which orders they wished to obey and which they wished to ignore.

Plasket AJ
Victoria Park Ratepayers' Association v Greyvenouw CC and others (511/03) [2003] ZAECHC 19 (11 April 2003)
3 December 2007

On race and the black middle class

This morning in the Business Day there is a very interesting article by Eusebius McKaiser, touching on some of the same kind of issues tentatively raised on this blog last week about race, racial essentialism and the like. He bemoans the fact that members of the so called black middle class are criticised for not having a bigger social conscience. Money quote:

But the critique of the black middle class does not stem from these humanist considerations. It is an argument that is explicitly couched in race terms, as if the white middle class is incapable of being moved by mostly black poverty. And therein lies the problem with this attack on the black middle class. It betrays deep-seated race essentialism that is overlaid with latent racism.

The argument is essentialist in that it effectively demands that every member of the black middle class accept special moral duties towards other black people solely by virtue of the fact that they both have black skins. But how, and why, does one’s membership of a group generate duties in respect of that group?

I think we should talk more about race and race essentialism because it remains the elephant in the room in almost any interaction and discussion. This article is an interesting and provocative step in that direction.

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