Friday, January 10, 2014

NAMIBIA>>Does Capitalism Work?

WE welcome the letter 'Admit it: Socialism doesn't work' by Moisel Botma-Majiedt (The Namibian, 6 December). It is indeed vital to have debates about pertinent issues.
We would like to start by pointing out that the formal (capitalist) economy actually makes up a very small part of the total economy of a country. The bigger part of the economy consists of non-commodity activities and exchanges such as the capacity to cooperate, to show solidarity, to love, to live in peace, etc.

In other words, it is within the creation of a shared culture that the majority of economic activity exists - without money. In fact, the economisation of all activities destroys meaningful behaviour, impoverishes social relationships, degrades the urban and natural environment, etc. There is a terrible social and ecological price being paid due to the profit motive.
The invention of software, as an example, has decreased the monetary value of products and shows that society can function without money. Indeed, the free exchange of knowledge on the Internet demonstrates that it is possible to organise a moneyless community.
The most successful capitalist economy, i.e. the US economy, produces few winners and many losers. 55% of the active population works as salespeople, waiters and waitresses, cleaners, domestic servants, gardeners, nannies and janitors - and half of them are in low-paid precarious employment. 90% of the US economic growth is monopolised by the richest five percent of that population, while the incomes of 80 % have fallen during the past 15 years. This is another way of saying that the middle classes there are also in meltdown and that the gap between rich and poor is huge. The simple truth is that capitalism does not work for the vast majority of humanity as well as not for the planet.
So, we should create a society in which the full development of each - a society of culture - is the common goal of all. We should redefine 'wealth' as the self-unfolding of all - as the social liberation of the entire humanity - instead of the narrow focus on profit for the very few.
We really wonder why Botma-Majiedt seems to be so scared of social equality, because this is what socialism is all about. Surely, the ideal of social equality is worth fighting for? Perhaps it has something to do with her frighteningly pessimistic (and sexist) view of humanity. Maybe she confuses Stalinism with socialism. Her emphasis on the system - instead of individuality - is characteristic of the kind of totalitarian structure that Namibia had for 100 years. We disagree with that conservative perspective as we believe in the optimism of willpower and the capacity of humans to act in solidarity in the process of producing their selves. We believe in the celebration of individuality.
We were also perplexed by her opposition to the sharing of jobs. This idea is not only aired in the spirit of solidarity and egalitarianism, but is also a logical solution to unemployment as the latter is around 50 % all over the world. And of course, the current ecological crisis should be quite clear: we either significantly reduce industrialisation (and share jobs) or there will be no earth left for all of us. If Namibians cannot fathom the urgency of the crisis and the very real threat faced by Walvis Bay, then we do not know what will ever wake them up.
And campaigning against the burning of fossil fuels is not going to be enough - we should ultimately end the economic system that makes the destruction of the earth possible. Such a campaign would only be a point of departure. We boycotted Shell, for instance, very effectively during the apartheid days - so this kind of political action can be carried out again.
Although she accuses socialists of being naïve, Botma-Majiedt's ideas about trying to reform capitalism and to get it right in Namibia reflect a high level of gullibility.
Capitalism is a global system that cannot be reformed. In those memorable words of Walter Benjamin: "The experience of our generation: that capitalism will not die a natural death."

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