Christopher Rodrigues

A Philip K Dick nightmare

Even though an American is four times more likely to be killed by lightning, there’s no greater bogeyman in the Anglo-American body politic than the homicidal terrorist. It beggars belief that something so statistically insignificant (it has been suggested that the odds of death at the hands of a jihadist, or the like, is one-in-20…

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Escape velocity

The astronomer Fred Hoyle once observed: “Space isn’t remote at all. It’s only an hour’s drive away if your car could go straight upwards.” Which is to say it’s twelve hours nearer to us than Cape Town is to Johannesburg. Imagine such a perpendicular journey: 100km above sea level we cross the Karman line —…

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The Mandela cult

“Happy is the country that has no history” is a proverb attributed to the French philosopher Montesquieu. In 1994, South Africa — up until then a synonym for backwardness and brutality — was reborn as a democracy. A new epoch dawned. A promised land beckoned. And the man who had come to embody that hope…

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No beautiful game at school

It’s not that there’s no demand for association football — far from it. Both in the 80s, when I attended the South African College Schools (Sacs), and even more so now — when soccer is the breaktime pick-up game of choice — the round ball is evidently popular. Why then is Mzansi’s majority sport still…

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Rethinking the police

From the infamous LAPD to London’s notorious Special Patrol Group and even further back — two centuries ago to the first ever newspaper reports of “police brutality” — all police forces exist along a continuum of violence. Leaving corruption aside South Africa’s police tend towards the direst part. We may not have the death penalty…

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After Kevin Bacon, the class struggle

As an analysis of our society race is still, to borrow a phrase from the mafia, the “boss of all bosses”. It’s a prefix, a subtext and for not an insignificant number — a totem pole. But there’s another heavy hitter — a rival explanation — that maintains that class increasingly matters. Most do not…

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Class and Jimmy Manyi

It’s, more often than not, a particular sort of person that says that kind of thing. I’m not referring to Jimmy Manyi’s comments about “coloureds” but to his use of the economic phrase “over-supply”. He could have been discoursing about barrels of oil, or bushels of wheat, or any other commodity but he was talking…

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Arrows for false gods*: WikiLeaks & ‘the national interest’

One of the better observations made by a local commentator in the wake of the WikiLeaks disclosures, was offered by Richard Calland, who suggested that the “purely nation-state, Westphalian view of the world” was increasingly in question. Calland wrote of a compelling anarchist narrative informing WikiLeaks’s direct action. He is quite right but the point…

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SA World Cup a disgrace

Examine the latest available Human Development Index (HDI) figures — a measure of education, life expectancy and standard of living — and you will find that the 2010 World Cup hosts are ranked 129 out of 182 UN member states. Or a whole 19 places below both Gaza and the West Bank. The effect of…

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‘Black boers’ and other revolutionary songs

A hat tip to Mphutlane wa Bofelo for pointing out the subtext to the ANC’s claim to the “shoot the boer!” song: For is it not the case, as wa Bofelo points out, that the attempt to establish a heritage status for the song locates the struggle in the past? And what of the new…

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