As a source of anything approximating dependable insight dinner-party conversation can be unreliable, except for now and then revealing a piercing if unspoken truth. I’ll come back to that. The same can be said of much of the national conversation, from the deliberately crafted political speech or sober reasoning of the opinionista to the slanderous caterwauling common to the tantrum corner of social media. Land, the topic of the moment, is as good an illustration as any. This single word, you could be forgiven for thinking, stands for everything that’s wrong with SA, the brokenness of an unhealed and uncooperative society, half-resentful, half-recalcitrant and so divided that it cannot find its way without being told where to go — against its will, if need be.How else — against the tragically eloquent record of its historical failure, as we at the Institute of Race Relations have repeatedly warned – can we read the government’s stubborn insistence on forging a legal means of taking...

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