SOUTH AFRICA is an astonishing country. Not only are we home to more millionaires than any other African country, (40% of all African millionaires live in South Africa) but this wealth coincides with extremes of poverty and unemployment. Some 25.5 percent of the population is unemployed and this figure is worse when the youth and first-time job-seekers are concerned, rising to 63%.
The reason why this picture is so, is not all that difficult to understand.
Let’s talk about the welfare disconnect. Although the country is one of the few nations on the continent to have implemented a social security programme, this programme is geared towards the elderly, disabled and child care grants. Thus the youth of today, are born into social security — their parents are recipients of state welfare not because they are citizens, but because they have children.
Once a child is over the age of 18, this grant falls away. The double-whammy of unemployment and poverty kicks in.
Today’s student unrest is a direct result of the situation where a pupil, having generated income for his or her family, simply by being a child, turns into a liability on becoming a young adult and tertiary student. In most cases, such a person is forced to fend for him or herself.
This is an enormous shock to both the youth and the family.
So far as social security in South Africa is concerned, we are a nation which has the cart before the horse.
The Focus on Labour at the expense of the Market
Command economies have failed wherever they have been attempted. Creating industries, whatever the cost, in order to create jobs, instead of producing efficiency, achieves the exact opposite. Labour for the sake of labour, is tremendously wasteful. Wherever it has been a state policy, communism has resulted in economic distortions and failure to deliver goods. Shifting the goal of humankind towards labour is therefore an exercise in futility.
Instead of paying families to have children, we should be paying people to stop working.
A social wage, comprising an unconditional basic income grant, health care and free education, would be the means by which the worst ravages of poverty and last vestiges of coercive labour was removed from our society.
The coervice labour market is a legacy of the apartheid system, which was dependent upon a labour pool, where workers were treated as nothing more than a resource to exploit. This situation has not improved under the ruling party, in fact it has gotten far, far worse. BRICS under Gwede Mantashe, has birthed South African sweatshops producing goods for Russia, low-wages and a shrinking Rand have become a factor of life.
Instead of forcing people into employment (or joblessness as the case may be). A social wage would redistribute income to each and every citizen, not by virtue of being a child, but by virtue of ones ability to vote.
Leisure should be our goal, not labour.
Labour should only be a means of achieving other goals.
Making goods should go hand in hand with Buying Goods. While Henry Ford may have had his faults, he produced cars for the workers who worked in his factories, not for the wealthy elite.
Citizens should thus be more than simply workers, they should be treated as adults and consumers.
While labour has certainly contributed to better work conditions — the invention of the long weekend, and other public holidays — it would be even better if labour were to permanently depose itself, by creating a 360-day-Vacation. Allowing robots to self-assemble and produce the goods, which we buy with our wages, which are in turn given to us, via a more efficient means of production and redistribution of wealth, This is an alluring proposition. Holland for instance had moved to end labour in mining. Machines are replacing humans wherever they are found, and the full automation of society is only a matter of time.
South Africa’s dirty secret is finally out. Capitalism is evil and all who engage with the capitalist system and its offshoot of evil, the capitalist state, are equally disagreeable individuals – corrupted prisoners of a licentious corporatised economic system which refuses to die.
Okay, okay, I’m getting a bit hot under the collar, what with President Zuma sounding like the pope delivering a sermon on the pleasures and pains of hell before the South African Communist Party Youth League — all to dispel the rumours that his administration and party is in reality, a party of market fascists intent on killing workers, who would have him and his henchmen at the throat if it were not for yearly promises of a wage increase.
Really Mr President, Capitalism, quo vadis, where are you going? The range of choices being rolled out by South Africa’s political parties are truly astonishing. From those who would have us all subsumed under the World Bank in an entirely business and capital friendly environment, at the expense of workers rights and a living wage, to those who would have a radical worker-lead government in which the tyranny of the banks and markets are tamed by an all-seeing, all-knowing, all-embracing state in a dictatorship in which the economy is somehow commanded to perform in the same way male porn stars are expected to deliver their manhood in the interests of an audience of sex-starved adults.
It really all comes down to how one defines capital accumulation and the rather prickly idea of human rights and consent of the individual. Clearly, participation in the capitalist economy has never been voluntary, workers are forced to seek employment or starve, what little social security that exists in our country is geared towards the elderly, children and the disabled, the result is invariably the same as rape, as both men and women are forced into the economy, either seeking employment when it is available, if at all, or ending up in the ranks of the discouraged who have given up looking for work and the opportunities work provides.
It helps matters not that like sex, capitalism is neither inherently good nor bad, rather it, (and by that I don’t mean capitalist sex), signifies something in us all collectively and together as a species. We have yet to evolve from dog-eat-dog, to a voluntary society based upon cooperation and mutual aid. As the anarchist Kropotkin reminds us, competition and entrepreneurship are not the only games around. Nor is survival of the fittest the only evolutionary logic behind nature.
Yes, there is such a thing as capitalism between consenting adults, (and one should also add, planet-friendly capitalism, flea-market capitalism, and capitalism based upon the principle of first do no harm) it is a hallmark of those anarchists who prefer black markets and counter-economics as well as leftist libertarians who tend to focus on the rights of the sovereign individual viz. vi. the state, but rarely, if ever, are we given freedom of choice, freedom from the burden of having to seek employment and a living wage. Institutional rape is not the corrective to rape by and on behalf of capital.
While those who advocate that all women’s work should be tax deductible paid labour and those who wish to legalise sex-work for whatever reason, the problem of the Zuma administration and its ideological failures are so numerous that one cannot help but wonder if the party has always been on the rape side of life? Instead of seeking out a choice in authoritarianisms, a crap shoot between capitalists (and their capitalist state) and the flipside, the dictatorship of the proletariat, we would all be a lot better off considering ways to eliminate the structural violence and aggression inherent to our society by providing alternatives to capital markets.
Instead of demanding a dictatorship of the proletariat by a revolutionary vanguard, a one-size-fits all ‘banging together’ of society, the group sex of the party rank and file, we should rather be demanding access to friction-free economic services like the digital commons — participation in the emerging global collective that is embracing our planet in an ‘ubuntu without borders” — a post-scarcity economics of abundance which may be achieved by open sourcing, not simply the economy which is bound to whither away, but also our currency ( in the form of bitcoins) in the same way that crowdfunding has freed entrepreneurs from having to beg for finance.
CORPORATE South Africa has not yet transformed to the degree where we can safely say apartheid no longer exists, or racist behaviour and other forms of racism in the workplace are no longer significant issues. While empowerment deals have broadened from their original elitist and chauvinist aspirations, they have tended to be cosmetic and misrepresent the interests of those “empowered” but with no effective control over management decisions.
Corporate policies continue to reinforce segregation and racial divisions in our society instead of cutting across the colour lines separating us into various racial and ethnic groups. Equal opportunity for example, is still being subsumed under the mantra of “separate but equal” in the strange, twisted logic of the system bequeathed to us by the apartheid regime. What is more, South Africa’s conglomerates have deployed a global strategy which seeks to escape significant empowerment while ignoring the all-important debate concerning equal opportunity and local affirmative action criteria. Diversity remains an ideal spoken about only in the most progressive of boardrooms.