Brent Meersman
Brent Meersman

Capitalism or socialism? We have no choice

It is not surprising that South Africans have trouble thinking straight. The poor live in a state of anxiety and insecurity, while high crime rates have led to a fortress mentality among the rich. Fear and anger permeate our opinions and shape our politics. The haves persist in the shadow of Zimbabwe’s ruin; the have-nots endure, increasingly infuriated by the lack of progress. A country riven with gross inequality is a nation intrinsically and continually on edge.

A survey conducted by Pewforum found that whereas 80% of sub-Saharan Africans believe their lives will improve in the next five years, 40% of South Africans thought it would not.

Instead of seeing the future as the only opportunity we have, South Africans fear it.

The media is often accused of stirring the pot, of selling fear. If the media is guilty, how much more so are the politicians on whom they report?

Politicians use fear in two ways: to frighten or to threaten people into submission. It is this climate that has created the ideological miasma on which we choke.

Old Afrikaans nationalists are now libertarian democrats. The former liberation movement is suddenly upholding traditional leadership as something progressive.The free-market Democratic Alliance is out promoting collectivism and wage subsidies. The left spouts right-wing African National Socialism. Communists are the new elite. Capitalists oppose state intervention, but then walk away from their social responsibilities. Former trade unionists are among the richest and most powerful men in the country. Unqualified bureaucrats earn more than their betters in private enterprise. Would-be young revolutionaries are rampant, avaricious consumers. Unionised workers lucky enough to have jobs go on strike to protest joblessness, even as they make it harder for the unemployed.

Liberals who raise legitimate concerns about the whittling away of democratic principles, of changes to our legal framework when nobody can foresee who will lead the country one day, are accused of being “anti-majoritarian” and racist; the way those opposing torture and rendition in the USA were labelled unpatriotic.

The ruling party embraces the absurd moniker, a “national democratic revolution”, a revolution moving with the speed of a glacier two decades after the overthrow of white rule.

The “second transition” on which the upcoming ANC policy conference is based is already subsumed in jostling for personal political ambition and ideological claptrap (old debates the world left behind long ago). The policy conference promises to be more a festival of politics than one of ideas.

Evident already in the discussion documents are strong ideological biases, defensive positions when examining the past, and a lack of intellectual rigour.

The most important question is not asked, never mind satisfactorily answered: Why did Gear fail?

Whoever can answer this question, as opposed to simply condemning the policy on ideological grounds, may well find the key to future policy.

The first decade of ANC economic policy, Gear, established a relatively stable macro-economic environment, but destabilised society. Why did it not create jobs? Where was the trickle-down effect? Why did inequality widen? How did all its promises evaporate?

Did Gear fail because it was curtailed by bungling bureaucrats and obstructionist capitalists? Is Gear alone to blame, or did failure to address land issues, HIV, a disastrous educational policy etcetera all play their part?

The ANC Mbekites believed capitalism was meant to deliver economic freedom and democracy political freedom. During its political transition, South Africa chose to pursue both simultaneously. This always put it in the category of an experimental state.

The question now appears to be whether we will see a rollback of political freedom and democratic rights in the name of “economic liberation”.

The exercise of democratic rights in the West was meant to keep the worst excesses of capitalist exploitation (indentured service, hazardous and polluted working conditions, child labour – my grandfather worked as a child labourer in the Belgian coal mines) in check, at least within their own democracies. In fact they transferred these exploitative practices to the developing world and used the wealth from extractive institutions to cushion their middle class.

The history of the labour movement in the USA shows how liberal bourgeois democracy allowed for a steady pace of appeasement, just enough to keep the economic and the political elite rich and safe. Each capitalist crisis was met with a few more concessions to the working class.

In the end, what passed for democracy was so much better than what had preceded it that people mistook it for the real thing. But a new aristocracy with less crude exploitative practices was in fact in power, a two-party state which allowed just enough class mobility (in the USA) and social security (in Europe) to keep up the appearances of legitimacy.

In both South Africa and the US, the biggest corporations are no longer investing in their native land. Globalisation has meant that what’s good for General Motors is no longer necessarily good for America. When the big companies of America lost their patriotism, the middle class quickly began to backslide.

In the USA a crisis point was reached under Bush’s wholesale mismanagement of that economy. Working class white Americans, finding themselves unable to afford their mortgages, educate their kids, fix their teeth and pay their medical bills, were in danger of revolt, of sidelining the cultural wars (abortion, gay marriage, evolution, gun ownership, legalised marijuana etc) that have for so long suppressed their class interests. Serious appeasement was required and the system acquiesced, allowing the unprecedented: the first black American president into the White House.

(Obama’s political entry even saw an increase in voter registration among hopeful South Africans.)

I’m not sure that our Polokwane “revolution” was that much different; things had become intolerable under Mbeki. But both Obama and Zuma (if one believes they ever really wanted to) have been unable to do much except patch up a collapsing system and renege on the best promises of their campaign.

As Greece becomes Zimbabwe, the Americans look to the Europeans and say: you have bankrupted yourselves with your idiotic utopian socialist beneficence. Meanwhile, Europeans blame rampant speculative capitalist greed and American-led algorithmic financialisation of the global economy for what appears to be an inescapable world depression .

Whatever the merit of these positions or whether too little good regulation or too many bad regulations are to blame, in the end the financial market has become one big Enron, a matrix of digital blips on screens. There are no factories, no production, no realisable underlying assets, let alone jobs. This is why a multi-billion dollar company like Lehman Brothers could overnight be worth nothing more than the market price of its empty office building in Manhattan.

South Africa too has made itself vulnerable by financialising its economy especially over the past decade. Moodys has again downgraded South Africa’s credit rating and our banks are under review.

The left in South Africa say it is a crisis of capitalism and its days of numbered. They are wrong. Capitalism will re-emerge; it is democracy that is in trouble.

In short: the global financial context which “forced” the ANC to adopt Gear is now far worse. The most economically informed and level-headed in government are letting slip signs of desperation. The economy shed another 75 000 jobs this year, and 107 000 in the last quarter of 2011. Labour has made great gains, but it cannot advance its interests further until the objective economic conditions improve.

Right-leaning economists blame the strangulation of the capitalist engine by over-regulation and ideological impositions from the state. But proposals from business are often insensitive. How do you tell people without shoes to pull themselves up by their bootstraps?

Left-wing economists blame the neoliberal elite pact. Everyone agrees that economically South Africa is hopelessly underperforming.

The remedies for our inequality proposed by the loudest sections of the ANC are ironically merely rehashes of old Afrikaner policies: BEE, nationalisation, central planning, a state bank, a massive overpaid civil service to mop up the unemployed. None of this is likely to fly. While they are about it, Cosatu might as well advocate the bringing back of sanctions against South Africa to stimulate our industrial base.

Outside the ANC policy huddle, the national debate is deadlocked by two obstinate beliefs: capitalism leads to economic oppression; socialism to political repression. Both these positions of fear and distrust become pernicious when muddled with race. The rocky lack of trust which constantly wrecks negotiations at Nedlac is proof of this failing communication.

The wit-gevaar creed of Numsa and the ANC Youth League leaves the door wide open for the entire policy agenda to be hijacked by the new unproductive elite, and the liberation movement to descend into political fascism.

The swart-gevaar conviction of many in the private sector and the global economy means a withholding of investment. The ANC’s mixed signals and uncertainty are alienating the constituency it most needs now in order to make a difference.

South Africa does not have a strong enough capitalist engine to fund a welfare state; and it does not have an efficient, professional civil service to run a more interventionist state. The only practical way forward is to urgently stop the haemorrhage – the extractive practices of both politicians and monopoly capital.

It is debatable which of these – endemic state corruption or capitalist exploitation – are doing more harm. The scale of the extraction of the country’s wealth by global capital is obviously much greater, but the capture of state resources by corrupt practices is a direct assault.

Government is highly unlikely to ever create jobs for those who can work, and wholly incapable of generating the surplus to support the unemployable. The tripartite alliance can talk until the cows come home and make all the plans it wants, but nothing will change unless it gets both capital and labour working again. A broader consensus, an economic Codesa, is required. And like its political predecessor, there will have to be compromises all round. It is never too late.

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    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      The troubles of SA are not caused by either socialism or capitalism but by Africanism,Tribalism and Communism.

      Apartheid was in itself tribalism – trying to keep “white” tribal SA seperate from the hordes streaming out of the Black Homelands for jobs. But today the biggest tribalist is Buthelezi, the IFP, and the Zulu King. Unless we do away with tribalism and tribal chiefs the Homelands will remain rural slums.

      Aficanism was a disaster, and the same disaster that collapsed all the African states post independence. Opening the borders to all the unemployed and criminals of Africa to “share” the wealth of SA did not make Africa rich but bankrupted SA. Giving away electricity to the neighbours did not help either. Nor did propping up Mugabe and Zanu PF.

      And Communism is self evident – “all are equal and none need skills”.

    • Tofolux

      @Mikhail, grief no more. History will forever laud Mao Tse Tung for leadership, thinker, freedom fighter, intellectual and the ultimate Communist. The ultimate servant of the people. His disgust of imperialism and the consequences thereof is in many of his teachings. “People of the world, unite” was one of the sayings that sparked a wonderful speech. So how can I betray a comrade who teaches us about class and the class struggle, about the correct handling of contradictions, how one must dare to struggle if you dare to win, the nature of democracy in 3 main fields, serving the people, the methods of thinking and the methods of work, about critiscm and self critiscm. He also once said that the Communist Party in China, should “rid its ranks of impotent thinking”. My(personal) analogy is simply that China had no choice but to joint the ranks of the world economy. If it didnt, it would be a failed state. And imagine the liberals lauding and trying to jump over the moon in celebration of another failed communist state. China by its very nature is a contradiction and dont you possibly think it is a contradiction because of time?

    • Charlotte

      @ Lyndall Beddy
      Your words are worth repeating:
      …. “Unless we do away with tribalism and tribal chiefs the Homelands will remain rural slums. Aficanism was a disaster, and the same disaster that collapsed all the African states post independence. Opening the borders to all the unemployed and criminals of Africa to “share” the wealth of SA did not make Africa rich but bankrupted SA. Giving away electricity to the neighbours did not help either. Nor did propping up Mugabe and Zanu PF.
      And Communism is self evident – “all are equal and none need skills”.

      Sensible, succinct and saying it as it is.

    • Skumbuzo

      Brent
      The issue of Capitalism vs Socialism is not the question. The question lies in our definition of Capitalism. It the definition of Capitalism (encarta) no mention is made of the word PROFIT. Where Capitalism for profit is practised, greed and exploitation take root, just like it has in the USA. Capitalism in itself is not a bad system if practised properly. However, many South Africans (world business leaders) practice an extreme form of greed. I know far to many people whose goal it is to retire at 40. That statement is pure recklessness. You cannot have one part of the economy growing at 25% and the other at 0,1%…….
      Socialism does not work, we cannot trust governments to manage ecomonies, they need to put REALLY STRONG laws in place to prohibit exploitation. They are gatekeepers, not business managers. Corporate’s need to be brought into check, and not just with a slap on the wrist.
      Conservative businesses like Banks need to make CONSERVATIVE profits, not the excessive profits they make now.
      America has moved from a culture of manufacturing from 50 years ago to one of a paper based society. Now Lawyers, Bankers and Accountants make huge “profits” while in reality adding very little value to the worlds economy. Cosatu are having the same influence here, destroying manufacturing in favour of China based trinkets leaving our poor even poorer

    • Rich

      @Sterling – yes, it is all to do with the cost – whether it be in labour or lives! Is there a First World nation who who did not achieved that status on the back of cheap labour or human lives (slave labour)?

    • Rich

      @Tofolux – ironic isn’t it that China today can well be considered an Imperialist Nation? And I am surprised that you call yourself a realist considering your last post to MDF slavishly praising Mao.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      If China is not Imperialist why did it invade Tibet and asset strip Burma?

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Mao also believed that “anyone can do anything – no skills required”. He decreed that anyone could be a doctor, they only needed a Book which the communists published, and sent out what were called “the barefotted doctors” to treat people equipped only with this book. They also decreed that mental patients would be cured by having Mao’s “Green Book” read to them every day!

    • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

      @ Tofolux

      Whilst I welcome your acknowledgment of the genius of Chairman Mao, I am also disappointed at your suggestion that his leadership would have led to a so-called failed state. On the contrary, it is untrammeled CAPITALISM that has led to the “failed states” of Europe and the USA. That is why I stand in solidarity with the Maoist revival of Hui Bo, Ten Zio and Chang Tia’m. I am ashamed that many (but not all), of the suits that dominate the Central Committee are running-dog agents of IMPERIALISM!

    • http://www.sane.org.za Yaj

      Forgive me banging on like a stuck record on the need for monetary reform as the cornerstone of providing a real and practical alternative to the archaic capitalism versus socialism dichotomy that plagues the debate.

      What we need is democratic public control of our money supply and the money creation process (seigniorage reform) and that means the ending of private control and issue of our money supply vis-a-vis fractional reserve banking. This can entail a transition to full reserve banking system and debt-free money spent into circulation through a universal basic income and essential infrastructure investment by the government.

      If we can get our heads around this issue , we can have a truly free market economy that is sustainable and achieve steady -state equilibrium.

      See http://www.positivemoney.org.uk for more information .

    • Tofolux

      @Rich, “cometh the hour, cometh the man”. Mao should be be articulated in the proper context. You cannot dismiss a leader who has had such a profound effect on his country.

    • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

      Lyndall, with respect, I don’t know where you got the idea that Mao sent out “the barefotted doctors.” They were, in fact, called “bare-foot” doctors. And, although rudimentary, they did not serve only the urban middle class. For the poorer peasants, conditions have got worse, not better, under the rapacious capitalism of post-Deng PRC which is rapidly transforming in the direction of America-style “health care.”

      Also, Mao did not publish a “green book.” It was a “red book.” It was Brother Leader Ghaddafi (recently assassinated by America), that wrote a “green book” for his people.

    • Oldfox

      @Tofolux,

      Indeed, many urban educated Chinese respect Mao for transforming China from a feudal state that was backward in several respects, and was weak. However Mao was responsible the disastrous Great Leap Forward. At least 10 million, and possible over 30 million Chinese starved to death, yet China continued to export grain during this famine, the biggest manmade disaster in recorded history. People resorted to canabilism to survive. First to be eaten, were girls and the elderly….

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Mikhail

      Read the book “Wild Swans” – it is a brilliant history of Chinese Communism from the time of the Japanese invasion of Manchuria – and the author,herself, was sent as a bare-foot doctor to the rural areas.

    • jandr0

      Lyndall Beddy says: “The troubles of SA are not caused by either socialism or capitalism but by Africanism,Tribalism and Communism.”

      My opinion is mostly in line with the above, although I tinge it with developmental processes of large groupings of people.

      Lyndall, if you have not encountered it yet and you do get the opportunity, have a look at Spiral Dynamics. It is remarkably accurate regarding South Africa, Africa, and for that matter, the whole world.

      “Spiral Dynamics was used in South Africa (Beck & Lindscott 1994) to formulate strategies to recreate their nation after Apartheid. They found the conflict was of vMemes rather than race. People operating from Purple and Red clashed with Blue and Orange. A Yellow vMeme strategy was developed, synthesising the conflicting first tier vMemes within a more embracing view, providing a more harmonious means of resolving issues.”

      Regrettably, that aforementioned Yellow vMeme strategy has long since been abandoned… it takes real leadership. Much easier to toyi-toyi and demand things.

      PS. Spiral Dynamics is a model of human development, and (as per Adorno’s non-identity thinking) therefore does not equal the real world. However, it is a rather disturbingly accurate model.

    • Oldfox

      Today, even Chinese write bad things about Mao. It was his personal physician who first wrote of Mao having deflowered thousands of virgin peasant girls. He apparently liked watching people being brutally murdered.
      http://aangirfan.blogspot.com/2010/10/number-one-holocaust.html

    • Melissa Pea

      Great article- very interested insights, neatly packaged and compressed into a coherent and logical analysis. Thank you!

    • http://live Sterling Ferguson

      @Beddy
      @Oldfox, I am amazed when I read some of these comments by some of these people. What a lot of people commenting about China like Tofolux, that the US was the ones that aided China against the attempt by Japan to conquer China. It was Doolittle that flew missions against the Japanese and help trained the Chinese air force. After the war Mao and his boys hijacked this country with the aid of Stalin and installed a communist government.

      Speaking of the isms, no ism is going to put bread on the table but, hard work will go a long way in doing so. In my opinion,Capitalism is the best economic system but, it must be regulated to keep the investors honest. People will work hard if they know there is a profit in it for them. On the other hand state own economies have proven to be a failure because people are not motivated to work for a profit. The reason why the workers don’t care because when the company is own by the state there is no concerned for making a profit.

    • http://live Sterling Ferguson

      @Beddy, When the communists ruled Russia this country was producing goods that nobody was buying and since the companies weren’t concerned about profit they wasted a lot of money. Since Russia got rid of the state owned farming, Russia is now producing surplus of food. Castro has finally admitted that the system in Cuba was a failure and told the people to go out and start their own businesses. However, he knew the communists system was a failure and it took him fifty years to admit it. The question, when will the Africans admitted that state own economies haven’t worked in Africa?

    • Rich

      @Tofolux – I would articulate Mao beyond narcissistic and well into the realm of psychopath. Not my man for any hour.

    • Tofolux

      @Oldfox, the point was made in this forum that SA’ns are easily indoctrinated. Not only was this done by our previous govt but by the West as well. Hence it is important when we are all embracing liberation, that we seek to liberate OURSELVES from our own prejudices and fears. It’s called emotional intelligence coupled with self liberation. And let me tell you, it is a daily exercise. Mao Tse Tung was a brilliant man, period. The problem with us though is that when we analyse these things, we need to depersonalise our assessments. Also, I never hear from people like you as to how many lives were lost in the fight for dominance of Christianity or from the attacks by the West on Iraq, Palestine, Middle-East. The point I am make is that you have been distracted from the real issues eg the warmongers and those who kill wantonly in the name of the dollar and allowed yourself to be indoctrinated by the ”gevaars”. I would suggest you research regurgitated propaganda, you might be surprised.

    • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

      @ old fox, sterling, rich, et al

      No one would claim that Chairman Mao was a personally gratifying gentleman. With respect, you frustrate objective historical analysis by personifying your discourse.

      My substantial objection was with Toffy’s suggestion that, under Chairman Mao, the PRC was on its way to becoming a “failed state.”. It painrd me deeply that Toffo, who is ordinarily such a well-informed, progressive contributor, should be lending support to the reactionary running-dog rightist counterrevolutionary clique that has has installed itself in Beijing.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Sterling

      You are so wrong – Africans dumped the Socialist/Welfare states they had inherited from the British/French and changed them to American Capitalism under pressure from Black America and the Diaspora – which is WHY Africa went belly-up.

      Africa HAD a surplus of food and was exporting food from EVERY French and British colony prior to independence.

      The British/European Colonisation period was only about 75 years – from the 1890s to the 1960s – during which period infrastructure (hospitals, clinics, schools, roads, dams, railways) were built.

      THEN Africa got Independence and collapsed one state after the other like a set of dominos.

    • Rich

      @MDF – Objective? How is “reactionary RUNNING-DOG rightist counter revolutioary’ at all objective? Your downplayed ‘personally gratifying gentleman’ also robs you of your objective.
      Methinks we have a case of you not seeing the wood from the trees? Never mind though as a holiday somewhere with a casino usually cures that.

    • Tofolux

      @Mikhail, I am usually not easily swayed and allow me to admit that I have not interrogated the relationship/impact the “depression” which ran concurrently with Mao vs the “boom years”(world) of the later leadership ie outcomes nd unintended consequences. I have also not checkd if there has been any ideological shift, after Mao. Hence before I defend myself, allow me to recheck myself and enter this debate, from an updated and informed point of view.

    • Oldfox

      @Tofolux,

      China has had hundreds of thousands, if not millions of very brilliant people over the centuries. If Mao was brilliant, he would not have initiated harebrained schemes like Great Leap Forward. The Soviets actually warned him not to implement crazy agricultural ideas that Stalinist Soviets had tried, but China went ahead anyway.

      I have been to China several times,h ave Chinese friends. Maybe you’re the one who is prejudiced.

    • Oldfox

      A free enterprise system, whereby people get rewarded for initiative, risk, hard/smart work etc has been used by humans for thousands of years, on all continents. I think free enterprise has evolved along with the human brain. One can suppress such beliefs only with great brutality, as was done in most Communist/Marxist countries.
      Socialist systems are also open to abuse, and can and do encourage inefficiency. Mobile phones made in Venezuela cost 4x the price of Chinese imports.
      The excesses of the Capitalist system can be prevented by appropriate legislation.

    • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

      @ Toff

      “Mao Tse Tung was a brilliant man, period”

      I agree . Yet with all his brilliance, he could not imagine foresee that his old rightist adversary Deng (whom Chairman Mao rightly put away during the glorious cultural revolution), would emerge after Mao’s death with the revolting cliche, worthy of the most degraded American pragmatism: “it does not matter whether a cat is white or black, so long as it catches rats.”

    • Tofolux

      @Mikhail, comment noted. (I actually forgot about that comment, tx)

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Sterling

      Here is a quote from “Explorers of the Nile” which is worth reading if you want to know what Africa was like before French and British colonisation:

      “Britain should have stayed longer in Africa, should have spent more money and better prepared Sudan and Uganda for independence; but with the USSR describing all European colonial nations as imperialist exploiters of territories which, for the most part, made no money at all, the choice had been between getting out or staying and facing a nationalist guerrilla war financed by the Soviets. The Americans too – even before they had desegregated their own Southern schools – attacked colonial rule as an affront to human dignity. On the ground British administrators felt they were betraying Africans by leaving prematurely. But “one man one vote now” was not an easy refrain to argue against in the Mother of Parliaments.

    • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

      @ Rich

      “Objective? How is “reactionary RUNNING-DOG rightist counter revolutioary’ at all objective? ”

      Rich, I mean do not mean “objective” in the sense that term is used in liberal epistemology. I mean “objective” in the sense that we use the terms as dialectical materialists who employ scientific methods to uncover the objective laws of history.

      Thanks.

    • Sterling Ferguson

      @Beddy, you are right most of the times and at times I have to call you out. The problem with post colonial Africa is most of the governments have setup an economy of extraction and not production. Take the case of Nigeria, this country was doing well with a growing economy before they discovered oil and after oil was discovered, the government started talking about how rich they were. The military accused the civilian government of being corrupted and they took over the government. The military didn’t know nothing about economic and the first thing they did wrong was to overvalued the Nigerian Nari. The overvalued currency of Nigeria led to a flight of capital out of the country. The country had all of this money in circulation and there were no goods produced in this country because all of the money was shipped out of the country. Corruption became the order of the day in Nigeria and nobody worked in that country. The next thing the military went to the western banks and start borrowing money on their oil reserves but, the price of oil took a sharp drop. The Nigerian government couldn’t pay this money back and went broke. The black Americans had nothing to do with the screwing up of the economy of Nigeria.

    • Sterling Ferguson

      @Beddy, I might want to add that many thinkers in SA think that this country has been depending to much on an economy of extraction and not production in SA. The number of people working in SA are becoming fewer and the number of people on family grant have increased. All of this started after the new government was installed in 1994.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Sterling

      What no-one has established, or tried to establish, is what African cultures were like BEFORE the Arab Slave Trade, back in the days of the Queen of Sheba for instance.

      When the French and British explorers of the late 19th century went looking for the source of the Nile, and found the horrific Aab Slave Trade flourishing, the Arabs had already been trading in Africa for 1000 (ONE THOUSAND) years!

      As one chief explained to Livingstone he had no choice but to send his men on slave raids against his neighbour, or his neighbour would send slave raids against his people – and the one that survived was the one with slaves to sell to the Arab slavers. Livingstone, himself, went looking for an African tribe uncontaminated by the Arab Slave Trade, even looking far north of Botswana – but the slavers had penetrated even there.

      So where would one look for the original cultures?

      Perhaps in Ethiopia in the old monastry records which have been kept very confidential?

      Perhaps in Indian and Chinese records – they traded with Africa before the Arabs?

      Perhaps in the Pacific cultures – they migrated from the same source and were not contaminated by an Arab Slave Trade?

      Perhaps in the original source of the cultures – the Asian seaboard, in places like Taiwan where there are a dozen tribes with cultures going back an estimated 7000 years?

    • Sterling Ferguson

      @Beddy, how did Ethiopia survived in a sea of Muslim countries? Also, did Ethiopia have contact with ancient Egypt?

    • Sterling Ferguson

      @Beddy, in order for Capitalism to survive it has to control the markets for profit and the countries that controlled the markets have a high standard of living.

    • jandr0

      @Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder: And who says dialectical materialism is “right?”

      Personally I have considered dialectical materialism, in the same way as I consider Hegelian dialectic, Adorno’s non-identity thinking, structuralism, modernism, post-modernism, Bergosonian multiplicity, transcendental idealism, realism, perspectivism, and so forth.

      Some of Marx, and especially Engels’ thinking that went into dialectical materialism is OK. What Lenin then went and did with it, in my opinion, is atrocious.

      If we consider the simple “quantitative change into qualitative change” principle, that principle was CLEARLY ignored and railroaded by later Marxism and communism.

      Communism has a lot of bad things to answer for…

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Sterling

      I don’t have all the answers, only some of the questions.

      My suggestion to the Black Diaspora is to shake off the fake “roots”, cultures and ideologies of various peoples with vested interests in palming off on everyone else their own ideologies and cultures, and do some research – maybe starting where I have suggested.

      Which would mean educated and trained historians, archeologists, anthropologists, migration scientists and linguists.

    • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

      @ Jandr0

      I am but a humble tradesman, so my grasp of Adorno’s non identity thinking is a little shaky. (Tofolux, can you assist me here? Or Dave Harris?)

      My only point was that you liberals (plus, at one point, Tofolux), were disrespecting Chairman Mao’s undying (!) contribution to the struggle of the Chinese masses, and failing to acknowledge that his successors were neo Capitalist scoundrels!

    • Oldfox

      @Tofolux
      I would not comment on “the fight for dominance of Christianity” unless that was relevant to the blog topic. I try to stick to the original blog topic.
      I once did comment on TL blog on the Muslim conquest of India, which cost as many as 100 million lives.

    • Sterling Ferguson

      @Beddy, all what you are saying has been put on the back burner because the people in the diaspora are all looking to make big money and nothing else. It’s good to discuss the history of slavery, colonialism, apartheid and other inhumane act but, it’s time to liberate oneself from the pass and move on. I think the generation gap is developing in SA with the people want to go out and start their own thing and not depend on the government. Many of the people in Africa and in the diaspora see capitalism as being the best way to do this. The government can’t create wealth, the people have to go out and create wealth, with hard work.

    • Sterling Ferguson

      @JandrO, communist is easy to write about but, it’s not practical because human being by nature wants to profit by what they do. Why would a farmer work twelve hours a day to grow food and the state take the food from him? The farmer will work hard only if he knows that he can stand a chance of profiting from his labor. Why would a person go to school eight years to be a doctor and is told that the porter in the hospital are supposed to make the same pay, like some of these people in COSATU, are saying?

    • Kiara Tisch

      I have to say that for the last few of hours i have been hooked by the impressive posts on this site. Keep up the great work.

    • D. D. Bayman

      It is time that people realise that we live in a global village.
      The general understanding of free enterprise, capitalism, socialism, communism and religion makes them meaningless. Even the definition of a fair wage has no meaning. Is it for one two……., in a family? In the US and Europe the number of children tends towards one, which will result in extinction, population growth is not sustainable in most other countries. There is also a desperate need for people to realise that technology is daily replacing human effort and that monetary reward is based on the scarcity of supply of the required skills not on degrees but on the ability to provide a service.