20 March 2019

South Africa: The Young Guns and Reruns of Little House On the Prairie


For the first time in the democratic era, the leading political parties have turned to young people, placed them on election lists, and staked the country's future on them. This is a good thing, right? Well, not necessarily so. There is no hard and fast rule that youthfulness amounts to insightfulness, far-sightedness, tolerance, understanding, deference, humility and, well, wisdom.

The election lists are out. We are obsessed with lists. Psychotherapists may explain the obsession with list-making as something as straightforward as a reminder of things to do, or to provide some kind of reassurance, or to identify things that may be contaminated and that need to be cleansed or avoided.

It is, of course, not always appropriate to extrapolate these individual obsessions to societies. But there's an argument to be made that there has been mass contamination at the intersection between politics and government.

While it is easy to point to politicians and well-placed public servants for their crimes and misdemeanours, it is worth bearing in mind that, like most societies in search of meaning, South Africans have manifested some maladaptive behaviours that make very many of us rather unpleasant people.

If we look around us, we see signs of...

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