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Another alternative economic model is possible

Publishing Date : 20 July, 2017

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The economic system or mode of production that dominates the contemporary world today is seldom called by its proper name.  We hear of the market economy or free enterprise system.  It is true that in all modern economies markets are critical and ubiquitous’ institutions nearly all aspects of production and distribution involve buying and selling, the activities that define markets.

The phrase free enterprise is still less informative.  Certainly not everyone is free to begin an economic enterprise, except in a completely abstract sense.  The economic system or mode of production that dominates the world today is capitalism.  It is not a very old mode of production, although debate rage, over how old it is and where it began.  Most historians believe that capitalism originated in what is today Western Europe.  The economic system it supplanted in Europe is known as feudalism which was land based mode of production centered around large agricultural estates called Manors. 

These Manors were controlled, though not owned in a modern capitalist sense, by a group of nobles and the work of growing food and producing everything else was done by force, the manner in which feudalism collapsed and capitalism arose is complex and a matter of considerable disagreement among scholars. However, we can make four general comments on what is called the transition from feudalism to capitalism, which occurred roughly from fifteenth to the nineteenth century. First, as capitalism developed the feudal manors gradually became private property, in the modern sense that the property could be sold and no social obligations went along with its ownership.

Second, as land was transformed into property a new class of persons with no access to property was created.  This landless class was the working class and its members were able to live only by selling their ability to work, their labour power to those who did own property.  Third creation of both private property and working class was everywhere accompanied, indeed made possible by massive force and violence.  Serfs had to be compelled to give up their long standing right to use land.  The more powerful class of property owners either used direct violence against serfs or secured the power of newly created central government to do their dirty work. 

Often times, government, enacted laws that amounted to legal coercion.  Before capitalism, serfs had the right to use manors common land, those parts of the manors not planted with crops and often used to gather firewood and water or hunt and trap animals. In the interest of property owners, governments enacted laws that converted common land into private property and made the use of land by non owners a crime, sometimes punishable by death.  A peasant who formerly had trapped animals for food on the common land might now be hanged for doing so.

Fourth and of great importance capitalist economies were from the beginning expansionary from English, Holland, France and the other early capitalists nation, capitalism began to spread around the globe. Michael D. Yates is right to argue the capitalism was born in theft and would not have been possible without it. Simply, stated those who are interested in capitalist mode of production want to steal. Today this theft is carried out through multinational co-operations. After the collapse the Soviet Union, Western propaganda machinery was all over informing the world that socialism has failed.      

What their handlers deliberately hide from them is the fact that it took North America three hundred (300) years of free slave labour to be so rich and is still stealing natural resources from African, Middle east and Asia to grow its economy. Did socialism really fail? Although this is a discussion for another time, Socialism as Nyerere has rightly argued is an attitude of mind, like capitalism is an attitude.  An attitude never dies! We shall always have people with capitalists’ attitudes and Socialists attitudes of minds. 

What happed was the collapsed of the union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) scholars differs on factors which led to the collapsed of the USSR but agree on three main ones, namely first economic and psychological war waged by capitalist countries against the USSR. Secondly, lack of ownership of personal properties like houses and third lack of freedom to travel.  My argument which is the subject of this paper is that there is a third way for economic development.  And this third way can borrow what is required from capitalism and also from socialism. 

 This anti-greed economic system is African and Christian.  This system should replace consumer economy of market with the anti-greed economy of sharing.  When I grew up as an African Child, I knew what belong to the family belong to us all. And a family here I am talking among more than fifty or even more, bo malome, bo rakgadi, bo mangwane, ditlogolo, bo  nkuku, jalo jalo. Sharing is in our DNA as Africans because we belong to one family.

Ka Setswana, Bangwato ke bo ntsala Bakgatla, Balete ke bo ntsala Bahurutshe.  Bayei ke bo ntsala Basarwa, Baherero ke bo ntsala Bambukushu, Batawana ke ditlogolo tsa Bakwena, Bangwaketsi ke bo ntsala Barolong.  Setswana sare motho ga nke a tima ntsalae! Gape sare setlogolo ntsha ditlhogo! Sera ngwana malome nnyala gore kgomo di boele sakeng!  All these are source of our anti-greed economic of sharing.

From a Christian point of view, Christ teaching is the source of anti-greed economic system.  The story on Mark 10:17-22 says it all.“A man ran up to him, and asked, Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?  And Jesus said to him why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone” you know the commandments:                                                                                                    

Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honour your father and mother, and he said to him, teacher all these I have kept since I was a boy and  Jesus said to him you lack one thing.  Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor and you have treasure in heaven and come follow me. At this word the man’s face fell and he went away sad because he had great wealth.  For us in Botswana who live in a society where conspicuous consumption is a sign of status and is believed to be the source of all well being, this story of Mark can be a profoundly disturbing text. 


You lack one thing Go, sell offers everything you have and give to the poor.  In doing this Jesus as Fernando Belo points out, the young rich Messianic reading of his practice.  Here, the ethic of the law he has been following is found to be inadequate. Leaving/following are the dialectically related negative and positive moments of the appropriate response every call to follow Jesus.  Jesus invites us to leave the security offered by wealth, status or achievement to trust solely in God’s providential care. 

This risk the young man is unable to take his inability comes from his attachment to money and comfort, status and security it brings.  It is the outcome of a system which has instilled and which continues to nourish it.  A Belo put it: the dominant codes of his society and ours have gained the upper hand over him. Jesus does not say go and give them blankets or diphapha.  He says go and sell everything you have and give to the poor not what you have been given by the business community but sell what you have and give to the poor!

What we need is not only the socialists or capitalists attitudes but ant-greed attitude.  The anti-greed attitude which Jesus requires is an expression of trust in the unique good way of God, to which Jesus refers in the very first words he speaks in the story, no one is good except God alone (10.17). Such an anti-greed attitude is nourished by a concern for the poor.  Jesus’ option for the poor, conspicuous in his life and teaching - for his life we know, was lived out in a progressive identification with the needy and the out cast, an on going journey from the centre to the periphery cross, beyond which no further movement was possible, for Jesus, was here locally outcast and wholly poor.

The Christians ethos is an ethos of anti-greed.  The African ethos is an ethos of anti-greed.  In my view it is not enough to say as Rre Ntuane always want to remind us that BDP is a member of socialists international or what Rre Moetsi Monwasa always tell the nation that UDC has adopted a social democratic programme.  What Batswana want to see now is concrete realities, a change of mind set, a paradigm shift, a new way of doing things.

There is a need for change of mind. Fear of change and loss is not necessarily a response that gives proof of people natural conservatives for in spite of the unemployment many people have found within consumers capitalism real relief from an older poverty. This  predisposes them to look upon the system as progressive, and they are the more inclined to accept its version of common sense , its logic in pursuit of ends which unlike, perhaps, at earlier time. The system has not been slow to make advantage of this more general public acceptance of the exigencies of capital.

The most argent purpose of any real alternative must be to demonstrate the necessity of disengagement from these processes, and in such a way that it can be slow to be not impoverishment or loss, but liberation. For we are dealing with what Rudolf Bahoro has called the occupied regions of our consciousness.

What does this means is that we must liberate ourselves from the chains of wealth. To think that without wealth we are nothing, otherwise we shall continue to accumulate wealth at the expense of others and we remain greedy. And even if we give others diphaphata and give ourselves aeroplanes we are not ashamed because part of consciousness has been occupied by greediness. 

The first step in this direction is for all leaders, starting from Councilors, members of parliament, central committee member of all parties to declare their assets and liabilities and most importantly declaration of all gifts which are more than one hundred pula. What Batswana don’t like to see is BDP rule beyond October 2019, or UDC to win and Batswana losses.

Batswana must win not BDP or UDC in 2019.  Batswana must be given a chance to debate about their future.  We are talking about our lives, our country and the future of generation to come, so we got nothing to fear.  People should know that we are here not to do anybody any favour but our country. The under informed and misinformed African leaders think that capitalism is God created system and to opposites it is to oppose God’s will, and thus other systems cannot work.  They are told that capitalism is the solution, a key to prosperity.



Do you think the closure of BCL will compel SPEDU to double their efforts in creating job opportunities in the Selibe Phikwe?