Pur­sue in­di­vid­ual rights through cap­i­tal­ism for change

The Star Early Edition - - LETTERS - Chris Hat­tingh

WHAT does the sugar tax, an in­creased min­i­mum drink­ing age, Na­tional Health In­surance, a wealth tax, the spec­tre of white mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal, state cap­ture, ten­ders, and re­peated at­tempts to stoke racial ten­sion by politi­cians have in com­mon?

They are all el­e­ments of col­lec­tivist phi­los­o­phy and are the tools of those in power who be­lieve they know what is best for ev­ery­one else, and are pre­pared to use what­ever power they have to leg­is­late mea­sures that en­force that be­lief.

None of the ex­am­ples men­tioned are rad­i­cal, be­cause they can­not be. None will pro­duce any real, rad­i­cal eco­nomic change, be­cause none hold the stan­dard that the rights of the in­di­vid­ual are para­mount. In­stead, they con­tinue the so­cial­ist bent of the apartheid gov­ern­ment, which was to in­crease the reach of the State. The col­lec­tivist phi­los­o­phy is premised on the im­por­tance of the group over the in­di­vid­ual and our cur­rent gov­ern­ment’s phi­los­o­phy is deeply col­lec­tivist, just like the apartheid state.

Through­out hu­man his­tory, those in po­lit­i­cal power have tried to con­trol as much of the in­di­vid­ual’s life as pos­si­ble. Whether in the form of theoc­ra­cies or so­cial­ist utopias, none recog­nise the im­por­tance of the in­di­vid­ual.

Think­ing, gain­ing knowl­edge and act­ing on that knowl­edge are all ac­tions of the in­di­vid­ual. It is what in­di­vid­u­als have to do to en­sure their sur­vival. Any act (or sys­tem) that vi­o­lates this is im­moral. This is why cap­i­tal­ism is rad­i­cal, by its very na­ture. Un­der cap­i­tal­ism, ev­ery­one must de­cide for them­selves how they want to live, spend their time and use their re­sources best.

Cap­i­tal­ism is based on vol­un­tary ac­tions. As Walter Wil­liams said, it is vol­un­tary ex­change be­tween in­di­vid­u­als free of third-party in­ter­ven­tion. This means that the gov­ern­ment’s proper, and only func­tion, is lim­ited to pro­tect­ing the in­di­vid­ual’s right to think, pro­duce, trade and pur­sue his own life and hap­pi­ness. The gov­ern­ment does this by out­law­ing the ini­ti­a­tion of phys­i­cal force.

Cap­i­tal­ism, and the in­di­vid­ual free­dom it nec­es­sar­ily pro­tects, flies di­rectly in the face of his­tory and the deep de­sire of some peo­ple to con­trol the lives of oth­ers. No mat­ter the jus­ti­fi­ca­tion of­fered, all so­cial/ eco­nomic sys­tems that sub­ject the in­ter­ests of the in­di­vid­ual to that of the group are im­moral. The pur­ported ends may be dressed up to ap­pear as no­ble and car­ing as pos­si­ble – but, once the meta­phys­i­cal im­por­tance of the in­di­vid­ual is jet­ti­soned, the pol­i­tics of the day loses all cred­i­bil­ity.

Colo­nial­ism had, at its heart, the per­spec­tive that the State would dic­tate peo­ple’s lives for their own good. Apartheid had, at its heart, the per­spec­tive that the State would dic­tate peo­ple’s lives for their own good. The cur­rent gov­ern­ment, and its view of econ­omy and so­ci­ety, is such that it does not be­lieve South Africans are re­spon­si­ble, clever or re­source­ful enough to live their lives as they see fit, so it also at­tempts ev­ery pos­si­ble av­enue to con­trol our lives, for our own good.

It is a stain on South Africa’s his­tory that we have never had a sys­tem close to cap­i­tal­ism; that peo­ple have never been as free as they ought to be. I am an ad­vo­cate for cap­i­tal­ism be­cause its moral jus­ti­fi­ca­tion rests on man’s ra­tio­nal na­ture – it is premised on and recog­nises in­di­vid­ual rights – and it pro­tects that ra­tio­nal na­ture from the force of oth­ers.

Do we want to con­tinue us­ing the ar­chaic, im­moral class rhetoric of the com­mu­nists? Or the racist group­ings of peo­ple es­tab­lished by seg­re­ga­tion and apartheid? If we want true rad­i­cal eco­nomic change, we must move to­ward cap­i­tal­ism and jet­ti­son at­tempts to con­trol the in­di­vid­ual.

The gov­ern­ment’s only func­tion, is to pro­tect per­sonal rights

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