Capitalism my ass …

Any economic system is only as good as its administration. How do you gauge “excessive” profit in capitalism? Capitalism is production for profit; the objective is profit, not a better standard of living for the nation. If the nation happens to have better livelihoods as a result of capitalist advances then that is primarily coincidental or merely to placate them because the owners of capital are aware that they are exploiting the nation’s labour.

Capitalism, at base, means you work in an enterprise and your annual labour produces goods or services that are worth millions but you are only paid the minimum union wage or the bare minimum to ensure you survive, whichever is the lesser amount; both being influenced further by the amount of available labour against the demand. This is the principle regardless of whether one is a wage-earner or salaried; the difference between what is paid out as income and what is produced is of course accumulated by the handful of shareholders.

In other words your labour is converted into wealth that goes into someone else’s bank account while you are only paid enough to ensure you stay alive and work and can afford to raise a supply of labour that is educated to ensure functionality in a capital enterprise while you distract yourself with religion, alcohol and the pursuit of trivial activities which make your life seem rich.

Now, this difference in incomes is not the evil of capitalism. The evil is that capitalism presupposes an equal starting point for every individual to enter this world, apply his/her talent and then prosper. Unfortunately this is not the case.

Capitalism is tainted by slavery, colonialism, racism, imperialism, nepotism, apartheid and other institutionalized barriers and injustices that, right from the onset, ensure that there are huge differences in the prospects of one child from the next.

The barriers and injustices of these isms are CURRENT not historic. These isms are extreme forms of capitalism which in turn create extreme forms of wealth accumulation. Wealth runs through generations that is why one can dispossess white Zimbabwean farmers of their land but they will stay right on in Zimbabwe living comfortably for generations on wealth accumulated, thriugh generations, since the 1900s, their children and grandchildren will go to private schools and to Wits and Stellenbosch, and then have enterprises off THAT wealth.

The AVERAGE educated black Zimbabwean child currently has “___” (fill in the blank) SA, UK, US, AUS, NZ to look forward to after school regardless of whether one went to a mission secondary school or a private college, regardless of whether one studies law at UCT or leaves school after “O”s. You will end up enduring unfulfilling work in “___”. That is the difference between being a child of a capitalist and being a child of a capitalist worker. The fact that one is a council worker doing menial work in Cheltenham and the other is a Wits B.Com graduate treated as a third rate employee and token company darkie is of no relevance.

Mind, there is an acceptance of being a perpetual worker – the comfort now being the attainment of a minimum status level – as a worker.

Which begs the question, what black African, in their right mind, knowing the past and present consequences of capitalism on the livelihood of ALL black people, still ponders over the rights and wrongs of capitalism?

Usually, it’s those African emigrants living in western “capitalist” countries who, because they associate with a white proletariat, lose the blatantly racial and ism-laden context of capitalism in Africa. What you do not realize is that all the western countries are socialist in relation to their citizens (welfare, free public education, health benefits…etc) at the expense of developing world labour. Take away all the African, Latin American and Asian labour exploitation, and the attendant profit, and see if Western capital will still be as generous with incomes and social benefits.

The good or bad of capitalism depends on which side of the fence you sit – we sit on the Black African side of the fence and that question is a no-brainer.

40 Replies to “Capitalism my ass …”

  1. May I thank you heartily for the responses to my initial remarks on capitalism. My failure to response was not and should not be construed as not ready to take on the fight, but rather to understand the ring in which I am meant to fight. Alas the platform is amble enough to provide a battle of ideas. The chief proponent of “capitalism my ass” mos native, is truly a student of ideas, and because of such I will engage knowing that here is a individual who studies ideas.

    Once, I too was under heavy deception, having grown up in a country where everyone had the same tv, same radio, same car, went to similar schools, took similar subjects, set and watched the same drama at the same time for a nascent mind this became the truth. This picture of equality- etched in the slogan that we are all equal worked extremely well in persevering a socialist state and ideals. My belief system- rather my moral compass deemed this to be fair and just, upon further fuelling by defunct university professors I became a professed socialists. To my credit, my professor made it necessary I read “ Das capital” and all Marxist-Leninist literature to better understand the ethos of the socialist/communist construct.

    How can one profess to be a soccer star when they don’t know the rules of soccer? Even worse how can one claim to be a die hard fan- soccer pundit when they don’t know the rules of the game. Imagine I, an arsenal fan commenting on how bad Chelsea is. This comment in a bar is very revealing, If I shout the loudest- the arsenal fans in the bar will totally agree with me, including all Chelsea haters. Chelsea fans will disagree with me. The revelation occurs when in the discourse both Arsenal and Chelsea fans realise I don’t know anything about soccer!

    Yet how many die hard socialist know anything about socialism beyond what they have heard from TV/radio and from their favourite teacher? Because you can kick a ball doesn’t mean you automatically can understand the game of football. Is it little wonder that the super bowl is watched around the world with much gusto and fan fair and yet 90% of the viewers outside of America do not understand the game. The success of the the super bowl has more to do with marketing than substance.

    My mind, being the curious type- wanted to understand why capitalism was bad. Born in an environment lauded with anti-capitalist mantra, this required rebellion of sorts. My first premise was to ask my professor. His answer was all too apparent, he only cemented my knowledge of socialism and not what capitalism is. In retrospect I realise that is what happens whenever people discuss capitalism, they are quick to mention what socialism is- welfare state- equal opportunities- democracy etc but hardly what capitalism is beyond the purportedly evils and vices of capitalism. Conveniently everything that’s bad in our society is as a result of capitalism, so apartheid, colonialism, racism, greed are products of capitalism, because the argument goes the purveyors of these social evils swear by capitalism. My grandfather swore he would never read the bible because the white men practiced slavery and colonialism based on the teachings of the bible. Indeed the bible was used by KKK to explain the supremacy of one race. But we know better, why, because WE READ the bible for ourselves, and evaluated our faith based on bible teachings. I wish my grand father had done the same!

    To be continued…..

  2. True…the communist utopia is as unrealistic as the capitalist ideal – I advocate for that non-exploitative people-oriented socialist/capitalist middle ground i.e. what they have in the “developed” countries, minus the third world resource looting.
    Instead of creating this situation in Africa, we leave and enjoy it abroad – not cool.

  3. In a bid to represent those who know very little about the economy, politics and all those things that add up to capitalism, communism, imperialism, or socialism, I would like express an observation I have made from what I have read thus far in this here gate that is apparently rusty. There is a lot of mention of the capitalist western countries that are looting the third world resource and all that. Am I naïve (moderately rhetorical) in thinking that this was much more an issue in the times of colonialism and slavery and all that. My point is, shouldn’t we bring in the middle men in all this and label them ‘the exploiters’. Is it not the governments, or companies that are guilty of exploiting their average Third Worlder. Are not Western countries only guilty of buying cheaply – thus ‘taking advantage’ rather than actually ‘exploiting’ – from the middle men who are in fact doing the exploiting? I would like to exclude the multinationals here, but it all goes back to the governments who could kick their asses out if they chose like Morales of Bolivia is doing. I love that man. Too bad it is just a phase.

    Anyway, I propose the third world countries (as nations) that are described above as ‘exploited’ are relatively far more capitalist (based on the definitions presented above) than the western world (excl US of A) and the latter are more socialist than they believe/admit they or we believe them to be.

    Trivial question, can a Country be developed and not capitalist?

    PS: If what I am saying is what the others are saying all along then ‘my bad.’

  4. @A-CM – you have redeemed yourself in my books, the continuation is eagerly awaited…:-)

    @Anonymous – from a strict Communist perspective, there IS exploitation by the mere existence of an owner of an enterprise accumulating wealth on the backs of workers on a subsistence wage. No doubt, there are groups (e.g. immigrants, minorities?) that are exploited in this manner even in the western world but not on the wholesale scale of the third world.

    But even the Communist ideal allows for accumulation as long as the workers earn enough for them to also accumulate…
    The distinction I make between developed world and third world workers is in living/working conditions – the former group may accumulate the latter definitely does not.

  5. A$$e$? Really?! Good to know! Note to self, use ‘arses’ in future.

    Oh (on developed communist China)

  6. @Tara – You have a duty to know all that you confess to not knowing. Politicians want to do it for you, academics want you to believe its too complex for the average joe, but, make a few literary purchases on Amazon and you will see how hoodwinked the whole world is.
    The looting is current – the only thing that has changed from colonial times is that a native elite government now administers the looting instead of the colonial white folk.

    p.s.Oh yes, I am loving what is happening in Latin America right now 🙂

  7. Wrong Native, any “native elite governments” are not administering any looting. They all remain conduits, middlemen if you will, for the traditional looters.

    As with any middlemen, they cream a little off the top to make themselves feel rich and flashy, like they’re a part of the Big Money, but they’re nothing but surrogates, puppets on the proverbial string.

    My two cents.

  8. @Beezy – that is what I meant 🙂

    I meant administering literally, not owning; making sure all the documents are rubber stamped, people come to work in time and are fired for stealing toilet paper!

  9. that was just to check that I was not being moderated by the poo-poo police.

    I am a strong believer in SocioCapitalism and I think that there was a swing in the late 90’s and early Noughties in Europe when Labour and Christian Democrats swept to power. You had the power base moving from right to right of left.

    The notion of Communism and Socialism is dead. Let’s not even pretend that these concepts are alive anywhere in the world. China – that’s has multiple economic concepts and the notion of communism is a political construct that ensures the perpetuation of the control of the Chinese Communist Party. Anyone who thinks that China is anything other than on the road to full blown capitalism needs to tell me what happened to the jobs for life and which country has the largest US dollar reserves and artificially maintains its currency.

    The problem with us Africans is that we covet the cow’s milk so much that we kill the cow. The concept of government in the world is create an enabling environment for business. Government has no business being in business.

    Finally capitalism and fair treatment of workers is not mutually exclusive. ore thought later. Time to go to the pub

  10. @BD – cow analogy reminds me of the story of the African (Peter)and the Asian student (Asan) who go to Harvard on government scholarships just after the “independence” of Peter’s country.
    On completing their studies they go back to serve in their governments.
    A couple years later Peter visits his former college buddy and is impressed by his decent car, suburban house and comfortable middle class life. He asks how he made it so – Asan smiles and says, you know those government contracts that land on my desk – he leans over, 10% 😉

    Peter is impressed and goes back home. Two years later Asan visits Peter and is floored by the two Ranges, an SL600, Prado for the farm visits, the two mansions, house boat, and tobacco and dairy farms. He asks Peter, what kind? – Peter grins and leans over – you know those government tenders that land on my desk – 100% 😉

  11. Marx failure, the worker’s failure and indeed the manager’s failure is not contextualising their struggle. The struggle is not in taking over someone’s else factory but rather in creating factories. Debunking Marxism is an easy task, if the workers/managers truly believe they have the value the argument should be they should resign and open their own factory. In a communist/socialist world this will prove difficult since the government is the only authority that gives factory mandates. Everything is centrally planned. Under capitalism anyone can start a business. Capitalism exposes the worker to think beyond his training, inclination and damn laziness.

    It is little wonder that having debunked communist leanings and all associated tragedies, the same people are now proponents of this new creature- socialist/capitalist- mixed economy dogma? I am yet to fully comprehend what it is they mean. Its like your default settings on your laptop- e.g screen saver, you can change this and play around with new screen savers but when you are tired of the screens or when you re-boot, you revert to default settings. And so is it such with these people, they espouse capitalism only when they deem fit and it suits them and their fancies, beyond which they turn back to their default settings- socialism/communism. In a game of cricket you can’t be the umpire as well as a player? But that’s what socialist-mixed dogma rhetoric means- they argue government has no business being in business, but forget that business has never wanted to be in government so the equality of motives was never there. The dangers of central planning have been well documented by Hayek, Mills, Smith, Schumpeter, Mises and the list goes on.

    the same people recognise that there is something inherent good with capitalism, but want to do away with the car simply because it needs to go the garage for servicing/ oil change etc. Then there is an argument of too big to fail etc, imagine Leeds football club appealing to the FA that its too big a club to fail and be relegated? Imagine Tiger woods being restricted to the number of PGA tours in a year so that others can play, since he had an unequal opportunity of starting to play golf at 3. by trying to solve inequalities in the world we only serve to create bigger inequalities. e.g BEE, hondo yemunda. Inherently people have inequalities in abilities, drive, creativity some will always do better than others- government can never regulate abilities.

  12. anti-capitalist mantra do you mind if I call you Anti Capp? Anyway you are wrong because the socio-capitalist construct is not a mutually exclusive notion and the analogy of the screen default on your desktop is good but think of it in the way that we have political, social and economic constructs, formulas and patterns but countries chose independently what works for them. The journey of chose takes many forms, it can be by convention, uprising or through development. One country has a monarchy, another a republic, another an absolute monarchy, another a dictatorship.

    The notion that there is a one form of capitalism is also bullshit. In the capitalist world there are various government departments that regulate capitalism. Whether it be finance e.g. SEC, FSA or in utilities Oftel, et aliter. There are various forms of regulation. You also have anti competition commissions. The very nature of these organisations is premised on the fact that society needs protection from business and if business is left unchecked, it will harm society. The levels of intervention differ from country to country.

    Secondly in the capitalist world you have medicare, NHS, NSSA etc which are governemnt sponsored programmes to take care of your society. You have government pensions, free travel for those over 60, etc, etc.

    My oats are getting cold but socio capitalism is real. I don’t want a Sweden where you have the highest taxes in the world, used to have to buy alcohol from the systembollaget (sp), which I have done by the way. I think the west is more socio capitalist than we give them credit for. The journey is long but we need to start to carve out our own system of beliefs and economy and government based on what we Africans believe in be it ubuntu, tsika, vadzimu, hoochies, consumptive consumption, etc.

  13. Buffdaddy.
    Is your socio-capitalist construct in the form of central planning capitalism? This rhetorical jugular is very hard to conceptualise. Indeed it may not be hard to imagine this creature- and its mutually exclusivity. But if by creature I mean man or woman are mutually exclusive, the emergence of a transvestite should not mean that there is anything wrong with rules of creation ( man or woman) but that the confusion is with the transvestite. But the transvestite wants to make us insecure, to gain credibility.

    Then you talk of political, social and economic constructs- I have no qualms with those words and how it all inter-relates. But how about a new word/s, liberalism/ libertarianism?? Then your journey of choice can indeed take many forms- but those who are interested in human development then understand that there is no better system than capitalism.

    Capitalism takes many forms, in the same way the style of football in the different leagues takes many forms- but there is no way handball can be a form of football, period! every team of football will never play the game if there is no referee. But every team will protest in disgust when the referee adds and abates another team or changes to become a player. As only as we understand what regulation means, there is no way a capitalist will not want regulation, after all he/she pays for it the most.

  14. Central planning and capitalism are mutually exclusive. Government has no business being in business.

    FA – Football Association
    RFU – Rugby Football Union
    GAAF – Gaelic Athletic Association Football

    Now using your analogy – those cannot be three forms of football.

  15. Buffdaddy: wrt football leagues these are different from associations which you have provided. For fear of being mis-represented i meant the type/style of SOCCER is different in Brazil, Spain and Italy. but the argument still stands Handball is not soccer :-).

    However, if you were being satirical: then i must admit i like your type of humour!

  16. Tisvikewo!

    @BD – arent you just full of surprises. From past posts I had you for a regular Coca Cola-swigging, Nike-wearing, smart phone-thumbing capitalist (ie JB…), but, seems there is some commie in you :-). Good man.

    @ACM – I gave you props for putting the books aside but you seem to have started throwing them at arguments again 🙁

    From your references I see it you are taken completely by the school of capitalist thought. I respect your reading of those authors and those authors’ brilliance in putting forth their arguments. But, I similarly respect the writings of the other side, Marx, Engels, Paine etc and respect their brilliance and articulation of their perspectives. Any sociopolitical and philosophical writings that are still cited and read today are works of genius – otherwise we would not know of them.
    To pit one school of thought against the other is as futile as it is lecture room – we could go on forever – and then reach a stalemate. That is not what I had in mind as a battle of ideas.

    “It is the mark of an intelligent mind to entertain an idea without necessarily making it your own.” (dont know the source, but i live by it…)

    My intention is to interrogate Capitalism from the perspective of a Black Zimbabwean (or any African). In the post, I have cited examples to illustrate the adverse “reality” of capitalism to this person and I hope you, as a proponent of capitalism, will refute my argument, not by showing up the shortcomings of communism or socialism, but by applying the capitalist ideas to the African situation and showing how capitalism has been good for him/her.

  17. I make no apologies in referencing authorities, how else can we understand ideas if not the root and routes from which and by which ideas take? A 1000 apologies however, if it may seem i had diverted from the fundamental question you ask? Before i tackle this challenge head on let me take a detour and comment on your admiration of Marx et al.
    Marx was a brilliant philosopher but a lousy economist. I hope you can make the distinction. Marx idea of life as a class struggle/revolution of sorts holds true then as it does today and will probably hold true in the future, although the basis of the revolution/revolt with always differ. So by extension Marx focus on society makes him a great sociologist. As an economist his logic was on wrong premises, thus wrong assumptions and therefore wrong conclusions. Like many capitalist, i take my que from Marx of the dangers of opening flaunting wealth, staying clear from openingly supporting politicians or becoming one, vigorously supporting societies and become the great philanthropist ( for true capitalist- money was never the motivation). Study characters such as Carnegie, Kellogg, Morgan, Rothmans, Gates, Buffett etc. Andrew Carnegie for example the richest man ever to live, donated all his wealth to charity. Contrast this with chiyangwa, Gono et al and we begin to answer your question.

    From a Black Zimbabwean, if you read my post the answer is all too evident, namely we should not be like my grandfather and the bible, we should not fight the factory owner, lets resign enmass and start our own factories. we should develop our own type/style of capitalism but it must inherently still be capitalism. Is it little wonder no African state has ever won the world cup? I doubt we shall as long as our type of play mimics the Europeans, is it little wonder that Zimbabwe first ever African cup qualification was by a local coach? But how can we start being entrepreneurs :
    • when the most revered career in Africa is politics ( imagine a robotics scientist becoming a politician- what is he doing there?)
    • Immigrants are not welcomed in our societies ( immigrants the world over are the most hard working entrepreneurs you can find),
    • White Africans are not recognised as being African ( read Zim’s disenfranchised white who lost citizenship), post-colonial hangover??
    • We still migrate to western nations at our prime and work for mr Man so we can retire back home in Africa. (Village mentality)
    • When success means driving a 2002 Range Rover Sport stolen from SA or UK
    • Credit card theft is lauded as innovation.
    • When Between our friends we boost of an impressive car collection and the idea of taking a risk is speeding to club at 200k/hr. Imagine the thought of selling our cars raising $100k starting a factory and working hard whilst making losses for the first 3 years?? Imagine?
    • When we haven’t been curious enough to scan out the rest of Africa and look for opportunities.
    • Chiyangwa remains a role model for guys and the most eligible bachelor/married guy in Zimbabwe.

    I could go on, but this is a sample of the mental barriers young Black people face.

  18. I agree with your take on Marx’s philosophy and struggle/revolution. On his economics, I agree partially, that they are not sustainable in the long run, but I believe they are necessary in the short-term for all post-colonial nations…

    Brief (10/15 years?)Marxist economics is necessary to lift a nation into decent and basic material conditions…
    My take is that for any African country to lift its “poor” economically, they need to FIRST embark on popular socialist programmes to give everyone running water, useful education, health care… Before I start sounding too commie, remember that this is what every developed country has done. The only complication with us African countries is that we try to do this off a social welfare ministry allocation from the national budget! The Americans, Brits and Europeans did this on the backs of colonial plunder and slave labour, which ensured that there was no adverse effect on the economy; close to home the National Party of SA did it on the backs of terribly exploited migrant rural and regional labour. The NP declared and implemented measures to end white poverty in SA and, contrary to popular belief, apartheid was more economic than political; a massive whites-only socialist strategy to raise up white socioeconomic status by job reservation, forced land removals, labour reservation camps, etc. Whites in SA were/are a tiny minority but it required an economic strategy on the scale of apartheid, against +/-37 million blacks to ensure +/- 1.5 million whites had socioeconomic wellbeing. What chance has the current government to do the same for the now 40 million blacks on a portion of the Department of Social Welfare budget and a poorly managed BEE only mildly-effective to the JSE listed companies?

    African governments do not have colonial plunder, slave labour and apartheid and other oppressive means of obtaining revenue, which the western world had, by which to uplift the standard of living of the African population to that level from which every single person can exercise their talents and abilities to their full potential.

    The American enterpreneurs you mention are admirable indeed – there is no faulting the “started in a home garage” microsoft story – but, genius needs the right environment to operate in.
    The post-colonial economic environment in any african country is toxic!

    The football analogy is right on point, my only addition is that neglect of rural upliftment will always come back to bite you. remember that the urban dwellers shouting the benefits of capitalism, for which their education and urban enlightenment stands them in good stead, are by far a minority in Africa.

    The ills you list IMO are as a result of the lack of a that solid socioeconomic base from which any legitimate capital enterprise can be founded. Chiyangwanomics and Gononomics are merely reactions to the prevailing toxic environment by individuals with low ethical barometers. More detail to each of those points later… 🙂

  19. My moderation is valuable for spam prevention, and if you fools are writing books with swear-words in them, your comments obviously go into hold.

  20. Point taken Beezy – not more books from me.

    @ACM – to respond briefly to your bulleted points they can all be traced back to the rot that set in from the Zanufication of the country which began during the Lancaster Conference and ensured that for any big business operation to run it had to have ruling party patronage. Therefore if you wanna be where the money is why not be right there as one of the shefs!
    Zimbabwean enterpreneurial genius has been directed towards scams and political business dealings for want of a conducive business environment.

    Its the weekend… I shall have a lager on behalf of each of the Rusty Gaters….any excuse… 🙂

  21. More like Dependence Day with the way every family in the country depends on stipends from someone overseas…

    The liner notes for the “Legend” cd state that performing at Rufaro at the invitation of the new government was probably the Bob&Wailers greatest honour of their career. With the way things have turned out, I bet someone wishes they could modify those liner notes…!

    Apparently they were not impressed by the Tea, cucumber sandwiches, stiff dress and “we-now-the-chefs” air at the state house “Tea” the following day…they noticed something amiss right away there…

  22. Not in capitulation, but for the love of ideas, and a penchant for playing devil’s advocate on my own argument, i have attached an interesting theory i ran into on why “intellectuals” oppose capitalism.
    Its very narrow in application, heavy on assumption and not appropriately researched – but I love the desperate ingenuity in the argument.

    http://www.cato.org/pubs/policy_report/cpr-20n1-1.html

  23. Was in Nairoberry for the weekend – great place.

    Communism is stupid and by that I mean very stupid. I am far from a believer in messed up central planning.

    I do, however, believe that government is in power to ensure the best for its people. The basics et aliter and more but fundamentally we have to be driven as individuals to aspire to more.

    I also think that there are those in our communities that need help so we should do our part. Last contribution on this post.

    BTW JB Hifa next week and this weekend OH v HSC @ OH. Went to the finals of the Bamburi Cup (Rugby tourney) in Nairobi over 3,000 peeps in attendancce.

  24. Mos Native. Thats a good article though borrows heavily from von Mises treatise on the anti-capitalist mantra. I suggest you look for the original article and get ALL the research and “intellectual” stimulation you require.

    @Tara, why are you so shocked? depending on where you live you contribute 65-90% of your income to government or quasi-government institutes only for the authorities to spend your money in Iraq, bailing out banks, electioneering etc- what have you got to show for it-isnt that monthly embezzlement??

  25. Last post too…

    @ACM – good tussle shall have a beer on your behalf, and yes, shall dig into A-CM, about time my position got swayed a bit

    @Tara – thats par for the course for any government,

    @BD – wish I was doing the whole OH/HSC thing. Being at a Super 14 match may be awesome but there is that belonging thats missing from watching guys you were in school with.

  26. Sorry I’m getting here late.

    As a Canadian I pay nearly half of my income directly to my government. The safeguards I receive (free health care, unemployment insurance, and good infrastructure and services) are worth the taxes I pay.

    In fact I would rather have an even stronger government taking more of my money if it helped provide even more services like a subsidized national airline, more effective banking system, and free post secondary education. So I guess I end up in the quasi-communist camp.

    Still, from an African perspective I wouldn’t trust a nickel to the majority of “socialist” or “revolutionary” or “marxist” governments that have found ways to mismanage and cipher funds from their countries for decades. Yes that was a sweeping generalization but trust in the government is the most essential step in handing over the money you earn. If that money is not translated into greater savings through the services government provides… then spend the money yourself and screw obese inefficient government.

    I’m all for the marxist ideal but in practice, praxis paints a very different picture.

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