Rick Turner’s Politics as the Art of the Impossible

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Rick Turner was a South African academic and anti-apartheid activist who rebelled against the apartheid state at the height of its power. For this he was assassinated in 1978, at just 32 years of age, but his life and work are testimony to the power of philosophical thinking for humans everywhere. Turner chose to live freely in an unfree time and argued for a non-racial, socialist future in a context where this seemed unimaginable.

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Rick Turner's Politics as the Art of the Impossible

This book takes seriously Rick Turner’s challenge that political theorising requires thinking in a utopian way. Turner’s seminal book The Eye of the Need: Towards a Participatory Democracy laid out some of his most potent ideas on a radically different political and economic system. His demand was that we work to escape the limiting ideas of the present, carefully design a just future based on shared human values, and act to make it a reality, both politically and in our daily lives.

The contributors to this volume engage critically with Turner’s work on race relations, his relationship with Steve Biko, his views on religion, education and gender oppression, his participatory model of democracy, and his critique of enduring forms of poverty and economic inequality. They show how, in his life and work, Turner modeled how we can dare to be free and how hope can return, as the future always remains open to human construction. This book makes an important contribution to contemporary thinking and activism where the need for South Africans to define their understanding of their greater common good is of crucial importance.

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