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Freedom and representation in South Africa

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dc.contributor.author Hamilton, Lawrence
dc.date.accessioned 2011-11-23T06:46:52Z
dc.date.available 2011-11-23T06:46:52Z
dc.date.issued 2011-11-23
dc.date.submitted 2011-08-16
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10210/4066
dc.description Inaugural lecture--Department of Political Studies, University of Johannesburg, 16 August 2011 en_US
dc.description.abstract South Africans are not yet free. In this paper I hope to convince you that this is the case and show you why. I shall do so by considering the relation between freedom, power and group representation in South Africa. In order to do so I focus on the material components of individual freedom and analyse how the power of group representatives strongly determines this freedom. I begin by developing a more substantive and concrete account of freedom than is the norm within contemporary political philosophy, an account in which freedom is understood in terms of freedom of action, or more particularly in terms of the power to act and the requirements for that power. I argue that freedom is power within and across the following four dimensions: 1) the power to act or be as I would choose in the absence of internal and external obstacles; 2) the power to determine the government of my political association; 3) the ability to develop and exercise my powers and capacities self-reflectively within and against existing norms and power relations; and 4) the power to determine my social environment via control over my economic and political representatives. Given modern conditions, where most of our lives are characterised by membership of a variety of overlapping and interdependent groups, I then go on to assess four forms of group representation, and argue that the aesthetic theory of representation provides the best means of understanding the freedom of groups. The main claim I defend is that, as with individuals and states, since groups can be represented they can be more or less free; and that their degree of freedom heavily determines individual freedom of action. I end with an analysis of group freedom and representation in South Africa, in particular how her electoral system, high rate of unemployment and rampant inequalities undermine the possibility for meaningful group representation and thus freedom. This is most acute and obvious amongst the large numbers of unemployed and working class of South Africa; but it is also true of the much smaller subsection of political and economic elites who are ultimately powerless in the face of the crime and instability that results from our highly unequal and poorly represented society. In sum, I argue that freedom is power and that a person is free through other people, not in the sense that freedom is only possible in small communities or action in accordance with a set of moral injunctions, but in the sense that freedom is dependent on the creation and maintenance of a political order that enables the exercise of critical, real and effectual action for all, as individuals or via control over economic and political representatives with meaningful power. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.rights University of Johannesburg en_US
dc.subject Political freedom en_US
dc.subject Political power en_US
dc.subject Political representation en_US
dc.subject South Africa - Politics and government en_US
dc.title Freedom and representation in South Africa en_US
dc.type Inaugural en_US

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