A neglected Utopian thinker killed by apartheid

Choosing to be free is the title of a 2014 biography of Rick Turner, a white South African radical thinker, assassinated in 1978.

“Choices. Our lives are made up of all the choices that we make, or do not make. Choices made visible, but not chosen. Choices made, but not understood, or not re-evaluated later, or regretted aeye-needle-cover-book5b15dnd carried like a weight. These are, indeed, troubling quiet times. It is tempting to drift into the numb comfort of cynicism. But simply naming the moral depravity of our times is not enough. The only escape from cynicism, at this point, lies in Utopian thought, in articulating and defending a vision of an ‘ideally possible society’.”

He wrote these words and was active under what seemed in the 1970s to be the unassailable and horrendous regime of apartheid. He imagined a world liberated not only from state organised racist repression, but from all relations of oppression, especially capitalist relations, as he elaborates in The eye of the needle: participatory democracy in South Africa.  I just discovered the biography’s existence it as I searched for The eye of the needle.

Rick is little known outside South Africa. I thank  Mike Newman for introducing me to him, when I studied Popular Education at UTS.

Here is a little more about Rick and the biography  Dangerous mind: what Rick Turner still has to offer South Africa.


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