We always watch on our TV screens every day some political parties representing the rich or the upper classes, such as ANC, DA, Cope, UDM, Agang, EFF and FF Plus – where the leaders own fancy restaurants and hotels but their employees earn close to nothing; where these leaders shine with gold on their fingers and teeth dug underneath by the mine workers who are dying of silicosis illnesses, only telling their own stories and not the stories of the underpaid workers and the dying miners. We all know how the lion tells the story after the hunt, no one ever listen to the story of the Impala.
The game is simple; the heavens are for those who have the keys, and those who have the keys to heaven are as well the ones who control the earth. They promise those who live on earth that they could open the heavens for them. They lie about heavens; tell the history of heavens and how are the heavens better than earth. They keep hope and this hope makes the people living on earth craving to go to heaven. When they are eager to go to heaven then those with the keys put some conditions forward. In society where privilege plays a major role, like ours today, where only the rich and powerful tells their story through the media they present themselves to us as “heroes”, as “leaders” and as “providers”. They use history to shape our thinking as we endorse their thievery and whole shoplifting in the economy. And until we look deeper with binoculars, we will never know that they are, in fact, their own heroes, own leaders and own providers as millions of the voters would still go back into the slums where they live in poverty and empty stomachs.
The capitalist media spreads far and above the capitalist propaganda amongst the poor that now it is that important time of the 5 years, “go and vote, it is your right”. But history prefers legends to men; history prefers nobility to brutality, souring speeches to guide deeds. History remembers the battles and forgets the blood. History glorifies the Kings and Lords as heroes and forgets the fallen soldiers whose families miss dearly so much everyday.
Be warned the voters, history remembers the fraction of the truth about the class struggle. The lions tell their stories of the hunt, and not the impalas. The winners often have the opportunity to tell their stories after the battle; they glorify each other and call themselves the “heroes”. In the society in which the capitalists win the story told in the media is of the capitalist for the capitalist hegemony.
From my point of view as I am on the side of the impalas, I have a story to tell. The working class have been attacked in all sides, some defeated and many are living in misery and abject poverty all over the world. No wonder some should look to the new alternatives and perspectives. Perspectives are a science, but tactics are an art. In order to work out correct tactics, we cannot base ourselves on general schemes and perspectives for the future. One must also remember that perspectives are conditional, a working hypothesis, they are not the tablets brought down from the mount, valid for all times and in all situations. Perspectives must be developed and updated, and be constantly compared with the living reality. On the basis of events, we must modify and change the perspectives, or, if necessary, tear them up and start again.
For many, it is clear what we are fighting against: corruption, unemployment, crime, crisis and austerity; but it can be harder to articulate or even picture exactly what we are fighting for. In concrete terms, how might a new society work? In what way would our individual lives be affected? What will socialism look like? Well, young men standing under a bridge everyday waiting for a pick-up truck to fetch them and give him them temporary jobs that pays only a R50 note at the end of a 9 hours of hard work would definitely not be happy. Some would choose to challenge the system of exploitation first by asking questions, but some would choose to live by it. The one that starts to ask questions would realize that there are many barriers that lead to these young people not achieving or benefiting in the ever-doing better economy. At the same time the ignorant young people would live by these barriers and settle for less.
And already, we can see the embryo of socialism within capitalism. Importantly, by examining the contradictions and barriers that capitalism – a system of private ownership and production for profit – imposes on society, we can see what the potential for a future, socialist society might be; a society where these barriers are removed, and where production is instead run on the basis of human needs.
But we need an economy that would have very less, if not all barriers removed, that would see people in general benefiting in the economy and improving their lives for the better.
“Each according to his abilities, and each according to his needs” – Karl Marx. The question we should be asking is what Karl Marx is trying to tell us here? What kind of economic development do we need for “Each according to his abilities, and each according to his needs”? Economic development is the material premise for the development of all other aspects of society. Without sufficient development of the productive forces – of industry and agriculture; of technology and technique – a society will not have the material conditions present and means necessary to advance in the fields of science, art, culture, philosophy etc. This is the fundamental tenet to the Marxist – materialist – view of history.
Capitalism is now no longer capable of developing this most fundamental aspect of society, due to its contradictions and resultant anarchy and inefficiency. Billions of rands are lost each year, which was not caused by individual greed or ideology, but due to the inherent workings of capitalism itself. Stagnation of the forces of economic production on a global scale ensued. This has thrown many countries back years or even decades in terms of their economic development – in Britain, for example, economic investment remains 25% below its pre-crisis peak and construction remains 10% lower.
Capitalism is incapable of developing the forces of economic production to their full potential. Capacity utilisation of the productive forces in developed countries is currently at 70-80%, even after having seen the closure of vast swathes of production and the loss of millions of jobs. Across the world, the average capacity utilisation stands at 70%. This means that at present we have the ability to increase global economic output by almost 50%, simply by using the existing capacity in the economy. Despite the fact that people across the world are desperately in need of food, shelter, healthcare and other basic commodities, this spare capacity is not being used. In fact many bourgeois economists today speak of excess capacity – i.e. that the economy is capable of producing too much (from the perspective of the market) and needs to be cut back further, hence closures and job losses.
We are often told that competition is the secret to capitalist efficiency; but in reality competition leads to greater waste. For example, there is significant duplication of work between businesses performing similar functions – meaning that time and money is invested twice into the same things. Take supermarkets as an example: if food distribution were carried out by one organisation, then economies of scale would make the process cheaper and centralised planning would make it more efficient.
Competition also forces companies to create needs for their particular products through advertising, the cost of which is passed onto the consumer. Trade secrets and intellectual property rights mean that the best ideas and innovations are not pursued as fully as they could be and lead to costly court cases, such as the infamous Apple v Samsung cases for mobile phones, which again push up prices for ordinary people. Instead of the world’s best and brightest minds being employed in tandem to produce the things that society needs, scientists, engineers, and designers are split up into different corporations and set against each other in competition, resulting in completely unnecessary duplication of effort and resources.
So I tell the story of the impala that capitalism is not working and we have fallen because of this system. The lions that you see today on TV telling us to vote for them are doing to because they survive and live out of the people’s miseries.
The parliamentarians, who happen to get richer and richer, by being voted to power by the poor who gets poorer and poorer are telling the story of the lion. The impala is eaten. They invest in big businesses that they have opened doors for in South Africa and Africa. The very presence of such giant multinational monopolies in every industry, in partnerships with leaders and government ministers, with just a handful of firms dominating the market, demonstrates how free competition turns into its opposite, precisely because of the increased productivity and efficiency that can be achieved from producing on such a vast scale. Within each firm there is an immense level of planning, co-ordination, and co-operation, all for the sake of increasing efficiency in the name of making greater profits. Between firms, meanwhile, the anarchy of competition and the invisible hand remains, leading to an enormous inefficiency and waste on a societal level.
Today, as telling the impala’s story in the hunt, when the lions are sleeping, we need socialism of a kind of what Karl Marx is telling us to achieve; “Each according to his abilities, and each according to his needs”.