Participatory democracy for our time

Anthony Egan
2016 South African Journal of Science  
HOW TO CITE: Egan A. Participatory democracy for our time. S Afr J Sci. 2016;112(1/2), Art. #a0137, 2 pages. http://dx.doi. org/10.17159/sajs.2016/a0137 As I read University of the Witwatersrand's political philosopher Lawrence Hamilton's challenging new book, I could not but recall another work written in different historical circumstances but with a similar sense of urgency -The Eye of the Needle by Rick Turner 1 . Turner's book was first published in 1972 as a contribution to, indeed a
more » ... to, indeed a radical critique of, the Christian Institute and SPRO-CAS (Study Project for Christianity in Apartheid Society) attempt to imagine a post-apartheid society. Although Turner had worked with SPRO-CAS, he was critical of its overtly liberal democratic conclusions, which he felt failed to understand the prerequisites for a new democracy. Given the nature of South African society then, Turner saw the only moral and practical solution in participatory democracy and socialism. While not necessarily socialist as Turner was in 1972, in so many ways Hamilton is doing the same for South African democracy today -challenging our presuppositions, calling us out of our temptation to cosy consensus or despair. He starts with a shocking suggestion: the idea of freedom, enshrined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, has simply not been realised more than 20 years after the transition to democracy. He argues:
doi:10.17159/sajs.2016/a0137 fatcat:neaxliivufaolo7kqei2lz3nvi