Bert Olivier

Understanding ‘world politics’ today – Rancière and Žižek

What I have in mind with this title pertains mainly to the work of that inimitable philosopher Jacques Rancière who has infused political thinking with new life, given the fact that it has become moribund under the dead weight of largely irrelevant liberal political theory and the idea that all politics is governed by the…

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Charlie Hebdo, laughter, dogma and ‘truth’

The recent “terrorist” attacks at the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, in Paris, France, is a stark reminder of something that the Italian semiotician, philosopher, novelist and universal scholar Umberto Eco thematised in his first novel, The Name of the Rose (1998), namely, the supposedly negative, mutually exclusive relationship between what is taken to be absolute,…

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A novel that can teach us how to rebel against the colonisation of the mind

What do you get when you project the present media-saturated and media-sustained global economic-political hegemony into the future? You get a society where the kind of colonisation of the mind, brought about mainly through mainstream media’s incessant distribution of standardised discourses affirming the nonsense, that there is “no alternative” to neoliberal capitalism, is exacerbated to…

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Fanon and the question of ‘white theory’

It is undeniable that Frantz Fanon identifies European, or “white” culture as racist to the core. It is equally undeniable that he affirmed the likelihood of the discourses of knowledge emanating from this culture being equally racist. It stands to reason that a culture, which regards itself as being superior to all others, given its…

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The Apple Watch, history and creativity

It’s a very good thing that TIME magazine’s tech writer, Lev Grossman, is an intelligent guy, even when he teams up with others, such as Matt Vella, in the writing of an article called “Wearing the Internet”, on Apple’s newly introduced Apple Watch (TIME, September 22 2014, pp. 28-33). Anyone less intelligent is likely merely…

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Cultural embodiments of the life and death instincts in human beings

Since the 19th century, when the heirs of 17th- and 18th-century British empiricism started thinking of the social implications of the empiricist doctrine, that all we know comes from experience, thinkers like Lord Shaftesbury and his ilk have believed that human society was “perfectible”. After all, if society could be arranged in such a way…

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Economy of luxury: We’re like rabbits caught in the headlights

Many readers will be familiar with Watership Down, Richard Adams’ wonderful, albeit sometimes terrifying, allegorical tale of a band of rabbits fleeing from a doomed warren (at the instigation of Fiver, a clairvoyant rabbit, who “saw” the imminent destruction of the warren by humans to make way for a building construction development). In the novel…

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The business of cyberwar

Most “connected” people will probably have noticed the symptoms of what is really a war going on right under our noses, even if one does not really put two and two together as far as the bellicose nature of these symptoms goes. I am not only talking about what ends up, mostly, in our spam…

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Ethics always comes too late for power

If there is one lesson I have learned from Foucault, it is this: Ethics always comes too late for power. What I mean by this is that human beings – even philosophers – have a tendency to rationalise, in ethical or moral terms, about the actual decisions and choices one makes in the world, and…

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Climate change: We have passed the 11th hour

In 2007, Leonardo DiCaprio — one of the few so-called celebrities in the world who seems to care about matters ecological — produced a disturbing film on runaway climate change called The 11th Hour, directed by Leila Conners Petersen and Nadia Conners. Like Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth before it, it was a wake-up call,…

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