By: Mphumzi Mdekazi
The misconception exists that the mastering of certain thinking techniques and thinking strategies is all that one needs in order to think critically and “opportunistically creative”. It is unfortunately not so simple. To begin with, a certain attitude towards thinking is necessary and secondly one must also possess certain virtues or traits of mind.
The starting point for the development of new thinking skills is surely the conviction that it is important to be able to think well and in a sophisticated fashion as a “revolutionary leader”, to create hope to those who follow you. Only when you have this conviction will you be able to take the trouble to acquire virtues, techniques and strategies that are necessary to allow critical and creative thinking to develop.
Sound thinking reduces errors. When you reflect carefully and thoroughly on an issue, you reduce the chance of making errors both in your argumentation and also in your actions as a serious politician. An error that is committed as a result of superficial or sloppy thinking not only leads to intellectual embarrassment, but also possibly to negative political ‘consequences’, which trounces the fundamental pillars of the ANC.
Sophisticated thinking therefore certainly helps us to foresee a great number of implications, and thus we can try to prevent unnecessary stifling of intellectual discourse and political debate to enrich our internal democracy. A characteristic of the present era is that we are sometimes confronted with more information than we can handle. The greatest demand that the current situation places upon one is to develop intellectual endurance to help one another to get a grip on this mass political information. Instead of just beginning anywhere, one progresses much better when one approaches the still-growing mass of information with a calculated thinking strategy. When you think critically and creatively, you do not only usually do it in isolation. You engage in an on-going discussion with other people, which first and foremost you must eruditely respect. This is how ideas are born by the willingness to listen and understand the views of others. When you summarily reject ideas or arguments that you do not like or with which you cannot immediately agree, you significantly diminish your chances of gaining new and enriching insights because you are politically tired.
Intellectual tolerance is precisely the virtue that makes you willing to take new or strange ideas seriously and to give them a chance. This prevents over-hasty judgments that are merely motivated by self-preservation and self-positioning, because it defers judgments until a thorough understanding of the “central” argument has taken place. Closely related to the virtue of tolerance is the virtue of intellectual fairness. This means that you do not declare an argument to be totally useless upon the slightest suggestion of a falsehood in it. Fairness demands that you will not succumb to irrelevant hair splitting or ill-conceived criticism as a leader, but it demands further that you will accept in good faith that the person whose view you are listening to is not a counter revolutionary without a thorough dissection.
This can place us in a serious predicament if difficult questions could be asked about our individual revolutionary moralities and essence. So our own prejudices, preferences and political sentiments must be measured at all times, especially by those who live solely to “lead” us. Only when we are able to expose the bricks and the structure of an argument can we begin to make all kinds judgments about the “central” arguments. We can then, for example judge whether the bricks are really strong enough, or they fit alongside each other adequately or we replace them with alternative bricks.
It is of greatest importance that we are prepared to look analytically not only at the arguments of others with political emotions and fatigue, but that we are also willing to be analytical about our own arguments and push for sound alternatives. The only silver bullet to a tired political rhetoric (like counter revolution) is the injection of a new political young blood, with fresh ideas. At any event South Africa is a Youthful country. There is everything wrong with a leader who spends almost fifteen years in a leadership position and it creates a false impression that there is paucity of leadership in the ANC, and that wisdom germinates and resides in one individual.
Time to create space for others, especially the youth has arrived, and otherwise it’s no longer politically hygienic, even for the Revolutionary Movement to be turned into political retirement or old age home. ANC’s top six position bracket is not meant for that. Fresh ideas than tired rhetoric is more than necessary, and failure to create space for others is a deliberate obstruction and a direct vote of no confidence to both young people and capable women towards leadership bracket in general. Failure to create space for others is a Political Gender Based Violence to even a politically aspirant girl child, I assert.
The question is; how do we build an equal society, if we are faced with this catastrophic political narcissism and political patriarchy, which continues to give birth to these tired and empty counter revolutionary adages? Failure to address this question will lead to Young people and Women getting a detrimental misrepresentation and continue receiving a political raw deal in the levers of political arena. It is time that they represent themselves, since they form statistical majority in the society. They must turn the numerical advantage into political substance and meaning (Women and Youth that is). Let’s deepen the dialogue.
Mphumzi Mdekazi (AB Xuma Branch, Boland Region/Western Cape)