[Remembering Bram Fischer; Fidelity and betrayal under the law]

“First, we must humble ourselves before the complexity of our history, and the nuances of its lessons to us. 

One of those is the cost of compromise. 

We must not seek our heroes only in those whose feet are not of clay. 

To fail to recognise this is to over-simplify our history and the cost the struggle for justice exacted. 

And it is to disrespect the complexity of (the) life…..

Second, none of us live lives of moral perfection, and we should not ask moral perfection of ourselves. 

Our task is to seek justice and improvement in the world not because we are perfect, but despite our failure to meet that unattainable standard.”

BRAM FISCHER: Koos Louw, charcoal on paper, 50 x 70 cm.

“……..How impossible it is to separate villains from saints, and how distracting the attempt to do so can be. 

For we are all complicit in the conditions of our time, where there is no moral purity but only the grubbiness of real material life.

……To appreciate how law can be brutal, and license brutality, is to understand how even under democracy, it can be suggested there has been no significant decline in the extent of police criminality, and how, in our constitutional state, ‘extensive police involvement in perpetrating serious and violent crimes continues’.”

“DOUGLAS BLACK”( aka BRAM FISCHER): Koos Louw, charcoal on paper, 35 x 48 cm.

“Yet it is no option to dismiss the imperfect present. 

We have to engage with it, struggling,…..in conditions that……..remain imperfect, to attain greater justice.

…….Despite our momentous transition to legitimate power and legitimate law,……our issues…. concern the use and abuse of state power in defence of privilege.

……have we exhausted our moral outrage?” 

“And have we employed our full array of constructive responses? 

Do we have figures of integrity and stature who employ enough principled, courageous, strategic dissent against injustice? 

…….each of us (should) ask ourselves: what is the ambit and the power of my challenge to injustice? 

What is the issue of my dissent?

……(It) should induce in us deep discomfort.”


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