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It’s not about Capitalism or Socialism, it’s about people welfare!

Publishing Date : 19 November, 2019

Ndulamo Anthony Morima

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr once said “Communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social, and the kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of communism nor the antithesis of capitalism but in a higher synthesis. It is found in a higher synthesis that combines the truths of both.”

The world, as it is, is currently ruled by two main political systems- Capitalism and Socialism, with the former taking the largest share. Capitalism is the right while Socialism is the left. The collapse of the Soviet Union has seen Communism and Marxism give way to Socialism, which, in some countries, has also given way to Social Democracy, which I regard as a compromise between Capitalism and Socialism. Realizing the domineering nature of Capitalism in today’s geo-politics, many countries which were originally Communist or Socialist, have infused Capitalism into their systems and called their systems with names which are more acceptable politically.

In my view, this is the only way a country can survive in this capitalism dominated world, where the world’s economy is dominated by the United States of America (USA), a capitalist country. After all, such critical institutions as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are controlled by capitalist countries, mainly the USA. In fact, it is the USA which determines who becomes the president of the World Bank. Not only that. The world’s currency is the US Dollar.

The Peoples Republic of China, for instance, refers to its system as Socialism with Chinese characteristics. But the truth is that their system is Capitalism with socialist characteristics. The same applies to the Russian Federation. Countries which have remained purely Communist or Socialist are failing. In fact, some are failed states, not because there is anything fundamentally wrong with Communism or Socialism per se, but because the world order is capitalist in nature.

Take the communist Republic of Cuba, for instance. One wonders why its education system, especially in natural sciences is so good that it exports medical doctors to many countries in the world, but it performs dismally in all other aspects of the economy. In Botswana, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), which has been in power since independence in 1966, is capitalist while the Opposition is predominantly socialist though, of late, some profess to be social democrats.

Empirical evidence suggests that both the BDP and the Opposition have moved more to the center. The Botswana National Front (BNF) has moved from the Communist, even Marxist, era of Dr. Kenneth Koma, especially during his formative years, and is today leaning more towards Socialism, even Social Democracy. No wonder the BNF has, over the years, sidelined such disciples of Marxism and Communism as the late Dr. Elmon Tafa and Gabriel Kajabanga.

The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) was formed mostly by those who defected from the BNF partly because they leaned more towards social democracy, even capitalism and no longer fitted well in the then predominantly Socialist BNF. Many Opposition leaders have, themselves, committed the so-called class suicide and abandoned their leftist leanings, with some going to the extent of joining the capitalist BDP. Many Opposition leaders are, for all intents and purposes, capitalist borgeousies whose progress, as Karl Marx said, resembles that hideous, pagan idol, who would not drink the nectar but from the skulls of the slain.

I would not go as far as Karl Marx did for that would suggest that Capitalism is evil. It is not. It, just like Communism and Socialism, has its imperfections, but it is not evil. Who would have thought that hitherto hard-core leftists as Meshack Mthimkhulu would one day join the BDP and become cabinet ministers who sing praise songs for Capitalism?

Who would have thought that Kagiso Ntime would one day chant the BDP slogan ‘Tsholetsa’ though he later resigned from the BDP and is apparently currently non-aligned? But they did. Does that make them bad people? No. Does that make them good people? No. All it does is that it confirms that they are humans who, like all of us, are endowed with the right to the freedoms of choice and conscience.

The BDP too has moved more towards the left over the years. We have seen more government intervention, especially in the Agricultural sector, something which is characteristic of Socialism. Also, under the BDP’s rule, especially from the tenure of former president Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, Botswana has become more of a social welfare state, something which is characteristic of Socialism. The question is: does it matter whether a government has capitalist or socialist leanings? In an attempt to answer this question, we return to Martin Luther King Jr’s quotation cited at the beginning of this article.

One of Dr. King’s criticism of Communism is that it forgets that life is individual. His criticism of Capitalism is that it forgets that life is social. I agree, for human existence requires both the individual and the society. Meaningful human existence is not about the individual or the society. It is about both.

If Communism is the thesis and Capitalism is the antithesis, both are requisite to make life whole.  Therefore, Dr King is right when he says the kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of communism nor the antithesis of capitalism but in a higher synthesis. It is found in a higher synthesis that combines the truths of both.

In Chinese philosophy, there is the Yin and Yang concept of dualism which describes how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another. In my view, the same applies to Communism and Socialism. There is no doubt that both Communism and Socialism have wrongs and rights. None of them is perfect. What humanity needs to do is to use the good in each ideology to uplift itself.

For many years, I subscribed to Socialism and abhorred Capitalism, but of late I have come to the realization that both are essential for human existence. After all, it is not about Capitalism or Socialism, it is about people welfare. In any event, many voters do not even know about Capitalism or Socialism. All they care about is such bread and butter issues as health care, refuse collection, sanitation, job creation, poverty eradication, good roads, clean water, et cetera. To them, the political ideology of the person who delivers on such of their needs and wants matters not. What matters to them is quality life. After all, it is not about Capitalism or Socialism, it is about people welfare!



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