SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.48 issue1The political convictions of Hans van Rensburg (1898-1966): Continuity and changeCharacter strengths rediscovered in psychology author indexsubject indexarticles search
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  

Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
Print version ISSN 0041-4751


STRAUSS, D.F.M.. Transformation of the Just State: Between the Scylla of bygone injustices and the Charybdis of an undemocratic, totalitarian content attached to the slogan "representative of the demography". Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2008, vol.48, n.1, pp.58-77. ISSN 2224-7912.

Against the background of traditional theories of the state focused on the issue of power and justice this article sets out to highlight the totalitarian and absolutistic pitfalls present in the notion of "majority rule". Traditional power-state theories (like that of Hobbes) are shown to have infected also the theories of those (like Rousseau) who did want to argue for a just state (a constitutional state under the rule of law/"regstaat"). This mixed legacy pertains both to the political history of South Africa and to its recent constitutional transition in and after 1994. The concept of "democracy" is "down-sized" to the constitutionally arranged election process, connected to the right of citizens to put a government in office. But it is argued that this arrangement presupposes the office of government and that the competencies (power) entailed in this office cannot be deduced from those who are actually subjected to it, namely the citizens as subjects within such a state. Since the majority cannot be the source of justice (or truth) invoking it as a yardstick (in the sense of requiring representativeness according to the demography of the country) the way to an eventual truly just state (without any discrimination), may result in a situation where the aim (a just state) is defeated by the means (totalitarian measures interfering in the legitimate spheres of competence of non-political social entities).

Keywords : Just state; Power-state; Dictatorship of the majority; Democracy; Office of government; Societal freedoms; Civil freedom; Representative of the demography.

        · abstract in Afrikaans     · text in Afrikaans     · Afrikaans ( pdf )