GERHARD PAPENFUS – CEO of the National Employers Association of South Africa (NEASA)
Two weeks ago, it appeared that the ANC was bulldozing ahead in its pursuit of its ideal of a socialist state. It then appeared that the ANC and EFF were on the verge of reaching consensus, on all elements, for the amendment of the Constitution, which would give them the required 66 percent majority to amend the Constitution. If this is to happen, South Africa will be fast-tracked on the road to ruin.
During the course of last week, however, news outlets have reported that President Ramaphosa came out firmly against the proposal currently the subject of discussions between the ANC and the EFF in the relevant committee, dealing with the amendment of section 25 of the Constitution.
In this, President Ramaphosa should enjoy support from all responsible South Africans.
South Africa finds itself at the proverbial fork in the road. Should South Africa take the wrong turn, it is indeed faced with a Zimbabwe/Venezuela scenario playing out.
A faction of the ANC and EFF ‘coalition’, especially with regard to this issue, is motivated by an obsession for revenge, power and quick wealth, as if their looting over the last two-and-a-half decades was not enough.
Why is socialism even still an option?
In the face of evidence that every socialist experiment, without exception, fails dismally, why is it that socialist ideas still find any traction? While there is not a single socialist success story, why are especially young people attracted to it? Why is it that this “failed idea never dies?”
In this article, some of the remarks during an interview with Kristian Niemietz, the author of ‘Socialism, The Failed Idea That Never Dies’ and the Head of Political Economy at the Institute for Economic Affairs, London, are highlighted.
On a question as to how an idea that has failed so many times, in so many different variants and in so many radically different settings, can still be popular, he responded by pointing out that socialists have successfully managed to distance themselves from all real-world examples of failed socialist experiments.
According to Niemietz, whenever you confront socialists with the examples of failed socialist experiments, they always offer one of the following responses: “These examples don’t prove anything at all! None of these models were ever truly socialism” or “You don’t understand socialism.”
Niemietz pointed out that, in the early days of any socialist experiment, it is enthusiastically greeted by huge numbers of ‘intellectuals’. He referred to the most recent example of Venezuela, which, just a few years ago, was hailed by leading intellectuals, journalists and left-wing politicians, as a model for “Socialism for the 21st Century”, and referred to a leading left-wing intellectual who proclaimed: “I love that Hugo Chávez has made poverty a priority.”
This is also the case in Russia and China. According to Niemietz, even mass murderers such as Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong were enthusiastically celebrated by leading intellectuals of their time. They were convinced that they saw a better society in the making.
Of course, history proved them very wrong.
Niemietz pointed to the three phases of socialism:
- During the first phase, the honeymoon period, ‘intellectuals’ are enthusiastic about the system and praise it.
- This is followed by a second phase, the “excuses-and-whataboutery period”, which sets in when the system’s failings become more widely known. During this phase, intellectuals still uphold the system, but their tones become angry and defensive, probably because they are suffering from cognitive dissonance. They grudgingly admit some of the system’s deficiencies, but try to blame them on capitalist saboteurs, foreign forces or boycotts by “U.S. imperialists.”
- Finally, the third phase sees intellectuals deny that it was ever truly a form of socialism, the “not-real-socialism” stage. This is the stage at which intellectuals claim that the country in question – for example the Soviet Union, Maoist China or Venezuela – was never “really” a socialist country.
South Africa finds itself in the “first phase.” One can only stand in shock and bewilderment as this ANC/EFF ‘coalition’, devoid of any wisdom, are steaming ahead towards implementing this self-destructive political experiment.
All South Africans should support the various efforts of civil society institutions to prevent this mindless policy being implemented.