The period of Mbeki’s ascendancy witnessed an upsurge in African and/or black racial nationalism in the country’s ruling circles, one whose effects are still being felt under the presidency of the more nonracial Jacob Zuma. This paper offers a critique of this new phenomenon from a liberal-egalitarian normative standpoint. Five conceptual premises of the new racial nationalism, the paper argues, lie at the root of what is normatively problematic about it. These are a group-based theory of moral agency, personality and standing; a race-based, unitary and teleological conception of peoplehood; an over-applied microcosmic theory of racial representation; the prioritisation of deontological racial justice in the assignment of persons to producer places over consequentialist social-welfare considerations regarding the provision of goods; and a crudely ‘postcolonial’ theory of knowledge and power. Four negative consequences flow from these conceptions: neglect of interpersonal equality and the poor, gratuitous social division, incipient authoritarianism, and policy irrationalism.


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pp. 67-94
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