Original Articles

Four principles of South African political culture at the local level


Standard models of political thought derived from Liberal, Democratic and Classical models of political theory do not appear to fully comprehend the structure and processes of political action and culture at the local-level in South Africa. I present a concise model that is based on set of four inter-linked ‘principles’ or concepts that structure political action and sentiment: (1) the equivalence of persons, (2) respect, (3) jealousy, and (4) suffering. These principles form a resilient and powerful structure that govern political action, and are significantly different from the bureaucratic/democratic concepts of (political and jural) equality, (hierarchical) distinction, organisational discipline, and personal achievement that ideally structure action in the ‘modern’ bureaucratic/democratic organisations of national government and global corporate business. In addition, the principles of ‘exit’ and ‘exile’ are advanced as ways to understand the relationship between the local-level politics and national or global-level political process.

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