11 September 2018

South Africa: Liberalism, Inequality and the Rise of Plutocracy


South Africa's current journey on the path of greater inequality should not be read to mean that the Constitution has failed nor the liberal ideal abandoned but clearly the continuity of inequality threatens the entire edifice of the present constitutional architecture.

Eusebius McKaiser and Mazibuko Jara, not on this platform but in the Mail and Guardian (and in this piece) started a useful exchange on the question of liberalism today.

Before we dig deeper into this issue it is apt note that the Brazilian scholar JG Merquior in his book Liberalism Old and New identified a taxonomy of over 30 varieties of liberalism.

Merquior's main insight, a view shared by Jeremy Waldron (1987), is that it is perfectly possible to envisage a situation in which one species of liberal thought were to die out, the main tenets of liberalism can remain in one form or the other.

Liberalism is not a single idea or ideology but a large umbrella under which is housed many different versions of liberal thought on what is or ought...

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