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What’s a Political Theorist to Do?

Rawls, the Fair Value of the Basic Political Liberties, and the Collapse of the Distinction Between ‘Ideal’ and ‘Nonideal’ Theory

Susan Orr and James Johnson

Abstract

John Rawls famously distinguishes between ideal and nonideal theory, according priority to the former. He depicts his own efforts to articulate the conception of justice as fairness as an instance of ideal theory. Subsequent political theorists have taken Rawls’s distinction as a template for how we should understand the tasks of political theory. Yet they also have struggled to clarify the underlying distinction with notable lack of success. We argue that Rawls himself does not abide by the distinction between ideal and nonideal theory and that this affords a good reason to set the distinction aside as a distraction.

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Whites Cannot Be Black

A Bikoist Challenge to Professor Xolela Mangcu

Keolebogile Mbebe

Abstract

Professor Xolela Mangcu argues in his article ‘Whites Can Be Black’ that Steve Biko’s philosophy of Black Consciousness would support the thesis that white people can become black. In this article I argue that this thesis is incongruent with the articulation of Black Consciousness in Biko’s book of collected writings, I Write What I Like. I show that, for Biko, Black Consciousness is possible only in the context of a non-white person’s experience of white racism that is not only a material experience but also a psychological experience based on the racist claim that there is a hierarchy of race. I contend that a correct analysis of Biko’s writings would show that white people self-identifying as Politically Black are acting from bad faith that results from a flight from the responsibility that accompanies their facticity.

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Ezekiel S. Mkhwanazi

Abstract

The African intelligentsia played a pivotal role in the anti-colonial and anti-apartheid struggle in Africa. Not only did it provide intellectual resources to the political struggle leaders but also took active part in the political leadership. Since independence, this role has diminished tremendously, as some of the intelligentsia are ‘silenced’ and others become ‘captured’ by the newly independent states. As a result, a wedge is driven between the intelligentsia and the political leadership. However, given that there is a deficit in efforts to reconstruct Africa, the pan-African intelligentsia are called upon to reinvigorate and reposition themselves to assist in developing organisations and institutions to serve African people worldwide. This call challenges them to take a creative, innovative role in the reconstructive task of Africa, thereby bidding farewell to intellectual isolationism. The article draws from Kwame Nkrumah’s ideas, thereby affirming the relevance of his political ideas in contemporary Africa.

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Contested Memory

Retrieving the Africanist (Liberatory) Conception of Non-racialism

Ndumiso Dladla

Abstract

South Africa since 1994 is widely represented as a society which has broken both historically and politically with white supremacy. One of the central discursive pillars sustaining this representation is the appeal to the most recent South African constitution Act 108 of 1996, the founding provisions of which declare that South Africa is founded on the value of non-racialism. The central argument of this article is that an examination of the philosophical underpinnings of the non-racialism of the constitution can give us a better understanding of why and how South Africa remains a racial polity despite the coming into effect of the constitution. We will conclude the article by considering the ethical and political demands which must be met before the actuality of non-racialism may be experienced.

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Lawrence Ogbo Ugwuanyi

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What vision directs pan-Africanism and which developmental model does it support and promote? To answer this question, the article evaluates pan-Africanism within the demands of African modernity and locates the extent to which pan-Africanism meets the aspiration of African modernity. It argues that pan-Africanism has what amounts to a north-bound gaze and supports development imperialism, and shows that for this reason it is not properly grounded on African realities, the consequence of which is the weakness of African modernity. The article suggests a re-articulation of pan-Africanism through the ideology of pro-Africanism, which holds that autonomy and self-will are two cardinal principles that are fundamental to African self-definition but which pan-Africanism is not in a position to provide because it amounts to a subordination of African difference. It concludes that a redirection of the African vision in this direction is a worthier ideological alternative to pan-Africanism.

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Editorial

Some Senses of Pan-Africanism from the South

Christopher Allsobrook

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Introduction

Traces of Pan Africanism and African Nationalism in Africa Today

Denis Goldberg

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Pan-African Linguistic and Cultural Unity

A Basis For pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance

Simphiwe Sesanti

Abstract

Contrary to the view that Africa is populated by many ethnic groups whose cultures and languages have no relation to one another, scientific research, as opposed to impressionistic arguments, points to the fact that African languages are connected, and by extension, demonstrate African cultural connectivity and unity. By making reference to both African and European scholars, this article demonstrates pan-African linguistic and cultural unity, and echoes pan-Africanist scholars’ call for African linguistic and cultural unity as a basis for pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance.

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Pascah Mungwini

Abstract

The topic of pan-Africanism today brings to the fore questions of the unfinished humanistic project of decolonisation in Africa. When Kwasi Wiredu (1996) calls for the need for conceptual decolonisation in Africa, he recognises the intellectual price the continent continues to pay as a result of conceptual confusions and distortions caused by a colonial conceptual idiom implanted in the African mind. Reflecting on the potential which the ideology of pan-Africanism holds for the continent’s future, my position is that the same passion and energy which brought about political independence should now be redirected to the epistemic front. A new form of pan-Africanism on the intellectual front is required to galvanise Africans to develop and deploy in their thinking veritable categories of analysis born out of the experiences of being African in Africa. It is in the generation and application of these alternative epistemologies that the future of the continent lies.

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Valery B. Ferim

Abstract

Spearheaded by pan-Africanists around the beginning of the twentieth century, the pan-African movement hosted a series of Pan-African congresses. Though the main objectives of the First Pan-African Congresses were to fight against the colonisation of Africa and the oppression of black people, the messages behind pan-Africanism have evolved over time. The central theme behind these Congresses, however, is to reiterate calls that African unity is the most potent force in combating the malignant forces of neocolonialism and entrenching Africa’s place in the global hierarchy. These calls have clamoured for the solidarity of Africans both on the continent and in the diaspora through associated paradigms such as ‘Afrocentrism’, ‘postcolonialism’, ‘African indigenous knowledge systems’ and ‘African solutions to African problems’. Despite this, contemporary societies are characterised by the encroachment of Westernisation, which has become synonymous to globalisation. This article reassesses the relevance of the pan-African discourse within the context of the contemporary world.