Fighting monsters and contracting horseshoe syndrome

uct burning 2

Seeing the images of historical portraits, valuable paintings and other property being burned on UCT campus – as a reflection of so many other campuses and situations in our country – and reading some of the comments people make in response to it, and I think of:


…an alterntive version of Johnny Cash’s Nine Inch Nails cover of ‘Hurt’, that distinctive voice singing, “What have we become, my sweetest friends?


…how we could avoid a lot of this by being more willing to listen to the average person older than fifty (or forty, or thirty?) – barring many of those commenting on said photos of course; simply because they have lived through this before and tasted its fruits; nothing of this is new. How we don’t value the voices of the old and the dead.


…the low regard in which I held the old and the dead’s opinions on a variety of matters until fairly recently.


…Os Guinness’ warning to beware of ‘horseshoe syndrome’; how many of these opposing parties involved are so similar – think of the shape of a horse shoe and how moving too far left or right brings one to a place almost touching one another. The one group is simply a modern and/or alternative version of the other, operating under different circumstances along a different agenda.


…Friedrich Nietzsche’s warning to whoever fights monsters: that they should see to it that in the process they do not become monsters (and with it, Mark Sayers’ book, Facing Leviathan, in which I recently read this Nietzsche phrase, where he illustrates what conquering the monster truly entails – of which I said: “of the most important books most people will never read”, or something like that).


…Roger Scruton highlighting how unfortunate it is that we diminish society to a social contract in which the living – the present members and minority – are placed in a position of dictatorial dominance over the dead and the not yet born – the majority. He was quite impressed by Burke’s response to the idea of the social contract; that it ought to be considered a trust rather than a contract: the living members as trustees of an inheritance that they must strive to enhance and pass on. Respect for the dead, in Burke’s view, was the only real safeguard that the unborn could obtain, in a world that gave all its privileges to the living. Without the ‘hereditary principle’, according to which rights could be inherited as well as acquired, both the dead and the unborn would be disenfranchised.


These are the thoughts that come to mind as I view the images and read the comments.





“The triumph of the modern, secularist view takes the negative aspect of freedom to excess, undermines the ordered liberty necessary for a republic and breeds a democracy of appetites that hunger for an all-catering state. Thus Tocqueville’s twin tendencies appear contradictory, but they actually feed off each other. Both the rampant individualism of [American] private life and the all-devouring [American] sense of entitlement encourage the state to expand in the name of caring for its citizens. The sovereign individual and the sovereign state are closer than people realise.” -Os Guinness, A Free People’s Suicide


UCT photos by David Ritchie.



About Servaas Hofmeyr

For life through Truth.
This entry was posted in Human Behaviour, South Africa, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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