These aren’t mushy-headed, thumb-sucking niceties; they are essentials in a pluralistic republic. Consider the example of James Madison, whose original proposal for a new Constitution was revised almost beyond recognition at the Constitutional Convention. He nonetheless embraced the final, compromise version as in many respects wiser than his original. He neither won most of his arguments in Philadelphia nor drafted the final document we know today, yet he is still rightly known as the “Father of the Constitution,” because he knew how consensus both leavens and strengthens principle.
I read it with the strong feeling that here was something that concerned me directly.... It was the concrete, the personal element, the "here and now" of this work that won me over. Thoreau did not put forth a general proposition as such; he described and established his attitude in a specific historical-biographic situation. He addressed his reader within the very sphere of this situation common to both of them in such a way that the reader not only discovered why Thoreau acted as he did at that time but also that the reader—assuming him of course to be honest and dispassionate– would have to act in just such a way whenever the proper occasion arose, provided he was seriously engaged in fulfilling his existence as a human person. The question here is not just about one of the numerous individual cases in the struggle between a truth powerless to act and a power that has become the enemy of truth. It is really a question of the absolutely concrete demonstration of the point at which this struggle at any moment becomes man's duty as man ....
A member of civil society represents their own views. It is very presumptuous of anyone to claim to represent the view of another as we often see. This does nothing but delegitimise the work done by CSOs and should be guarded against. Purporting to represent the view of all South Africans when failing to give people an understanding of what it is being referred to is very demeaning and can be dangerous as it further strips away the voice and dignity that represent civil society. But I have not the faintest clue what they are harping on and on about and yet they claim to be representing my views.
Many are sceptical of the work being done by CSOs, believing the sector to be self-serving and even at times, perpetuating the cycle of social exclusion under the guise of ‘making a difference’. This is a direct result of not differentiating between representing ‘civil society’ and a CSO representing a particular constituency of civil society. By virtue of seeking accountability from government and business, CSOs should hold themselves to the highest standards and this includes ensuring that no error is made about who and what CSOs represent.
- Koketso Moeti, e-mail: kmoeti@ Alternatively, refer to http:///koketsomoeti .