Economics, Literature and Scepticism

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I am a PhD student in Economics. I am originally from South Africa and plan to return there after my PhD. I completed my M. Comm in Economics and my MA In Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of Cape Town, where I worked as a lecturer before starting my PhD.

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Vavi vs. Ghandi

Posted by Simon Halliday | Sunday, June 29, 2008 | Category: |

As many of you will know there has been a fair amount of coverage of Zwelinzima Vavi's (the head of COSATU) statements relating to Zuma, specifically the statement "kill for Zuma", which the Human Rights Commission has asked him to retract, or to face subpoena and investigation. Similar statements have been made by Julius Malema (Motsoko Pheko has a comment on both here).

In this piece in the M&G he is quoted stating that "We are prepared to die in defence of one another and for our revolution." Maybe I'm a bit odd, but I see these as being qualitatively different things. Dying for a cause and killing for a cause are two substantively different moral positions (about which I think maybe Ghandi had a word or two to say).

What amazes me is that he doesn't seem to realize the difference. He doesn't seem to understand that killing for a cause and dying for a cause have such different meanings and imply very different moral propositions as to the the willingness to sacrifice your own right to life versus the taking of someone else's right to life. If I said "I am going to die for my belief in the non-racialist ethic"
(for example) relative to "I am going to kill racists", the one does
not follow from the other.

Moreover, he does not seem to understand the difference between dying for a cause and dying for a member of a cause who has been shown to be morally flawed. The two are, once again, substantively different propositions with substantially different repercussions. Personally, I think that there is a difference, once again in saying, "I am going to die for the non-racialism." vs. "I am going to die for Jacob Zuma" the two don't mean the same thing, they have substantively different connotations. Again, maybe I am confused, but every time that Vavi tries to 'clarify' his statements, he seems to dig himself deeper into this quagmire of confused moral propositions. Maybe someone can inform me as to why I should understand what Vavi is saying in a better manner?

Why, oh why, can't we have a better unionist movement?


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