Solidarity with the Palestinian People

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has its roots in the 1890s, when a Zionist movement emerged in Europe, with the aim of creating a Jewish state in Palestine. According to the founder of modern Zionism, Theodor Herzl, such a state would “form a rampart of Europe against Asia, an outpost of civilization against barbarism


The Zionist movement gained a powerful ally in 1917, when the British government gave its support to their aims. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1918, Britain took over the government of Palestine under a mandate from the League of Nations. It used this mandate to enable Jewish settlers to acquire land and weapons and to organize militarily and politically. At the same time, the British crushed Arab Palestinian organizations, exiled their leaders and jailed or hanged Palestinians resisting their rule.

In 1947, Britain asked the United Nations to decide the future of Palestine. The majority of the UN Special... READ MORE

The Philosopher's Cold War

Peter Laslett’s 1956 introduction to a collection of essays on Philosophy, Politics and Society begins by reflecting on the contemporary situation of political philosophy in Britain. He writes:


It is one of the assumptions of intellectual life in our country that there should be amongst us men who we think of as political philosophers. Philosophers themselves and sensitive to philosophic change, they are to concern themselves with political and social relationships at the widest level of generality. They are to apply the methods and the conclusions of contemporary thought to the evidence of the contemporary social and political situation. For three hundred years of our history there have been such men writing in English, from the early seventeenth to the twentieth centuries, from Hobbes to Bosanquet. Today, it would seem, we have them no longer. The tradition has been broken and our assumption is misplaced.. READ MORE

'n Ander Wêreld Is Moontlik

Resensie van Breytenbach se Notes from the Middle World


In Oktober 1997 het Breyten Breytenbach ‘n merkwaardige lesing ter ere van die Portugese skrywer Fernando Pessoa by die destydse Universiteit van Natal gegee, met die titel “Notes from the Middle World.” In 1998 is ‘n Afrikaanse weergawe van die lesing in die filosofiese tydskrif Fragmente gepubliseer.


In die jare daarna het verwysings na die Middelwêreld hier en daar in Breytenbach se werk verskyn, sonder dat dit ‘n sentrale metafoor in sy werk geword het. In 2007, in ‘n onderhoud oor sy onlangs gepubliseerde Veil of Footsteps, het hy laat weet daardie boek is die eerste deel is van sy Middelwêreld-kwartet... READ MORE

Zen Communist

Around the time that Breyten Breytenbach became active in revolutionary politics, he also immersed himself in Zen Buddhism. Years later, imprisoned for terrorism in Pretoria, he recalled how, after making the vows of a bodhisattva in Paris, ‘a lock of hair was ceremoniously snipped off’ and explained: ‘It’s a cleansing process, a casting off of dead matter, a mental undressing, a way of taking leave of the world and becoming strong by making yourself vulnerable’ (Breytenbach, 1985: 197)

Later still, after his release from prison, Breytenbach reflected on this apparently paradoxical commitment:: ‘To be a Zen Communist seems a contradiction, or at any rate peculiar - I believe I was the only clandestine activist in my dojo, I know I was the only Zen student in Okhela.But it’s not such a contradiction as all that. The concreteness, shying away from abstractions, not manipulating facts or other people, forswearing personal ambition, attentiveness, awareness - all these are functional political precepts.’... READ MORE

Dialogue Alone

D. C. S. Oosthuizen’s Engagement with Three Philosophical Generations


The legacy of D. C. S. Oosthuizen is best approached by viewing his work as an ongoing engagement with the philosophical ideas and assumptions of his time. In this talk, I will try to interpret his work as engaging in dialogue with three philosophical generations: the Afrikaner intellectuals of his own generation; the liberal and broadly secular culture of English-language South African universities in the 1960s; and the new radicalism emerging after Sharpeville—initially in such contexts as the University Christian Movement—that was to become prominent in the 1980s, a decade after Oosthuizen’s death


I do not mean by this to suggest that these three generational engagements represent three distinct ... READ MORE