About

Late night newswrap on Cape Talk. Picture by Rafiq Wagiet of Cape Talk.

I write, make pictures and do some university teaching, supervision and examination. I have also played small roles in international public policy-making (at the World Bank) and national policy making in the secretariat of South Africa’s National Planning Commission. On a day-to-day basis I write mainly about current affairs – political economy and society – with a particular interest in global capitalism and historical shifts in the structure of the global political economy. Since April 2019, I have been a regular contributor to the Vrye Weekblad, a truly revolutionary publication in the South African media landscape. It delivers insightful, courageous, exceptional writing in Afrikaans on a weekly basis.

Writing

I am a columnist for the best national English-language daily in South Africa, Business Day. I also write a column for the Herald, a newspaper in Port Elizabeth, and one for the Daily Maverick, a web-based newspaper which has done more than any other publication to advance investigative journalism in South Africa. 

I have a couple of longer-term writing projects underway, one of which I wrote about, briefly, in the Mail & Guardian. See THIS link. Another is on Neo-classical economics as the basis for liberal global capitalist governance, and its inability to address global inequality. The book, once completed, will be based almost completely, on my doctoral dissertation in International Political Economy. The working title of the book is, “Liberal Capitalism and Equality: An Impossible Relationship”.

Photography

While I have drifted away from day-to-day photography, I maintain a high interest in the philosophy and sociology of photography. My own work has been mainly in news media, some of which was part of an exhibition, “Between States of Emergency: Photographers in Action 1985 – 1990” at the Nelson Mandela Centre Foundation. The exhibition travelled around South Africa. I delivered the keynote address at the exhibition’s opening at the Bird Street Gallery of the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth in May 2017. An edited version of the address was published by the Mail & Guardian under the headline, “The Cruelty of Deliberate Forgetting“.

Unless otherwise stated, all photographs were made by me. Please do not republish them without permission and/or without full credit.

Radio and Television

I am also a commentator and analyst for radio (Cape Talk and the BBC World Service in an earlier incarnation) and for TV (Aljazeera, TRT and the SABC). I recently started hosting two-to-three hours at a time on Cape Talk. It is actually quite thrilling. I enjoy the immediacy and public engagement. I am hoping to make this a more regular feature of my work in the coming months.

Below is a nice screen grab someone sent me of one of the Aljazeera commentaries I have done.

Academic

I served, briefly, as the Executive Dean of Business and Economic Sciences at Nelson Mandela University. Previous academic positions include Visiting Professor at the University of South Carolina, and an Assistant Professor at Elon University, in North Carolina. I have taught EconomicsPublic FinanceInternational Political EconomyGlobal FinancePolitics and Governance in AfricaPolitical Science, Comparative Politicsand Islam and the Muslim World in International Affairs.

I am currently (2018 – 2021) a Visiting Professor at the Wits School of Governance, and an external examiner for the Wits School of Journalism, and for the University of Cape Town’s Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance.

The first talk I gave as Dean of Business and Economics Sciences at Nelson Mandela University in April 2016 – about a week or so into my tenure. It was unscripted. I was called up to make a few comments. I think I have an audio clip of it somewhere.

Social Media and Other Things

I can be found on Instagram, which I should put to better use, and on Twitter @ismaillagardien. I use Twitter mainly to keep up with things that interest me, and not for followers. I should make better use of Instagram but have this nagging feeling that it’s owners are dodgy….

Speaking of which I am no longer on Facebook. I have no interest in LinkedIn whatsoever. I have an Academia profile, but I use it only to get a sense of some of the research that scholars and thinkers are involved in. I really am not clever enough to be an academic.

All comments will be moderated. If you want to get my attention, do not be sexist, racist, homophobic, anti-semitic, skoorsoekerig or just an all-round twat. Actually, it’s probably a good thing to be a nice person in life – just generally.

Discussing youth entrepreneurship and innovation in Khayelitsha, Cape Town

Personal Stuff

There was this thing on Facebook a few years ago, where you had to list 25 points about yourself. Instead of making 25 points about myself, I have listed passages from film, music and quotes by the thinkers and people who have inspired me, and that appropriately capture ‘my 25 Notes’. One or two may be slightly different from the original.

1. Those who forget the pasta are condemned to reheat it.

2. The… the other important joke, for me, is one that’s usually attributed to Groucho Marx; but, I think it appears originally in Freud’s “Wit and Its Relation to the Unconscious,” and it goes like this – I’m paraphrasing – um, “I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member.” That’s the key joke of my adult life, in terms of my relationships with women.

3. You know, Rick, I have many a friend in Casablanca, but somehow, just because you despise me, you are the only one I trust.

4. Juxtaposing a person with an environment that is boundless, collating him with a countless number of people passing by close to him and far away, relating a person to the whole world, that is the meaning of cinema.”

5. The beautiful is hidden from the eyes of those who are not searching for the truth, for whom it is contra-indicated. But the profound lack of spirituality of those people who see art and condemn it, the fact that they are neither willing or ready to consider the meaning and aim of their existence in any higher sense, is often masked by the vulgarly simplistic cry, ‘I don’t like it!’ ‘It’s boring!’ It is not a point that one can argue; but it is like the utterance of a man born blind who is being told about a rainbow. He simply remains deaf to the pain undergone by the artist in order to share with others the truth he has reached.

6. All that I know about my life, it seems, I have learned in books.

7. I do not believe in God; his existence has been disproved by Science. But in the concentration camp, I learned to believe in men.

8. You end up taking advantage of yourself. There ain’t no way around that.

9. I ain’t king of anything.

10. Like a solitary fir tree egoistically separate I stand, casting no shadow, with only the wood dove building its nest in my branches (own translation)

11. Quite an experience to live in fear, isn’t it? That’s what it is to be a slave.

12. During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to see realized. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.

13. I dream of an Africa which is in peace with itself.

14. The world must be all fucked up when men travel first class and literature goes as freight.

15. We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons.

16. If you are lonely when you are alone, then you are in bad company

17. To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

18. The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e., the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force.

19. The writer must earn money in order to be able to live and to write, but he must by no means live and write for the purpose of making money.

20. The reign of the super powers must be over
So many armies can’t free the earth
Soon the rock will roll over
Africa is choking on their Coca Cola

21. The standard of justice depends on the power to compel and … in fact, the strong do what they have the power to do and the weak accept what they have to accept

22. You are very close to producing a very significant piece of work.

23. If only it was as easy to banish hunger by rubbing the belly as it is to masturbate.

24. The poor are prevented from thinking by the discipline of others, the rich by their own.

25. The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy

I generally respond to email messages, (ilagardien at yahoo dot com) or comments left on web pages. I moderate the latter because this is my personal website, and I really could not be arsed to get involved in meaningless debates. That’s it. That’s all.