WHICH STORY DO WE FOLLOW? ‘CULTURE WARS’ AND THE ISSUE OF PUBLIC MORALITY ON CANAAN’S SIDE OF THE JORDAN

Tony Balcomb

Abstract


In apartheid South Africa the issues of morality were quite clear and specific. In
spite of the various attempts at justification or obfuscation it was clear that
apartheid was wrong and the struggle for democracy was right. Other issues that
might have come to the fore in a normal society were eclipsed by the apartheid
story. In post-Apartheid, liberated, South Africa, the issues are not so clear. A
multiplicity of stories from various segments of the society compete for the moral
high ground. This has produced what JD Hunter called “culture wars” (1991) –
that is, different groups expressing different sets of values that find their legitimating
moral base in different meta-narratives. While Hunter describes only two for the
American situation at least seven are discernible in contemporary South Africa.
From myths that support the free market to those that sidestep the AIDS pandemic to
those surrounding burgeoning witchcraft practices, the moral terrain is being
contested by various groupings in the new society. What are the indications of the
presence of these myths in the society? How are they being used to construct moral
understandings of the society? Which worldviews are they assuming? What sorts of
values are emanating from them? What impact are they having on our society?

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7833/82-0-894

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ISSN 2305-445X (online); ISSN 0254-1807 (print)

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