oa Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - Stemming the blood-dimmed tide of lawlessness : the rediscovery of duties

Volume 33, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0010-4051



The causes of conduct in violation of law are manifold. One cause, in South Africa at least, is the legacy of apartheid. But in a broader global context, it is plain human greed, above all else, that drives people to violate the natural law. It is greed which impels us to take insatiably and irresponsibly from the earth, thus causing devastation of the environment. This view will, no doubt, appear simplistic to those who would seek the roots of mounting disrespect for law in the complex ground of political and socio-economic considerations. But the view championed here has a long pedigree : according to Plato, the father of Western philosophy, almost all evils, private as well as public, arise when people exceed the limit of necessity and give themselves over to the unlimited accumulation of wealth. They then have to take from others in order to satisfy their greed, for they believe that what they have is no longer enough.

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