Rhetoric de­mo­bilises work­ing-class

The Star Early Edition - - LETTERS - Chris Maxon

OUR coun­try has suf­fered un­der the grip of a di­a­bol­i­cal con­test that has seen friend turn to foe and com­rades be­come sworn ene­mies. All this shows that there are fun­da­men­tal delu­sions in the un­der­stand­ing of the “white mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal” con­cept.

Or­di­nary men and women have been left none the wiser and as­pi­rant po­lit­i­cal ac­tivists turned into ide­o­log­i­cal buf­foons who, like par­rots, re­peat what their master says with­out un­der­stand­ing.

The resur­gence of this con­cept co­in­cides with a salvo of rev­e­la­tions that the Gupta fam­ily has ben­e­fited from its par­a­sitic re­la­tion­ship with the pres­i­dent and his kith and kin.

Me­dia re­ports have also been awash with re­ports sug­gest­ing that the con­cept was used to dis­tract us from the cor­rup­tion and #Gup­taLeaks.

The truth is that many still view the con­cept as a ratchet “rev­o­lu­tion­ary” and “rad­i­cal” rhetoric that has usurped ob­jec­tive po­lit­i­cal en­gage­ment.

Whether what is as­sumed about the resur­gence of this con­cept is true or not, the fact is par­a­sites con­tinue to wreck the lives of or­di­nary peo­ple and, in the process, the work­ing class is de­mo­bilised with “rev­o­lu­tion­ary” sound­ing rhetoric.

At the cen­tre, and more wor­ri­some, is a gen­eral dis­play of ide­o­log­i­cal lethargy and empti­ness. The telling tale iswhite mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal is spo­ken about, out­side of a gen­eral anal­y­sis of the cap­i­tal­ist mode of ac­cu­mu­la­tion.

There­fore, the point of de­par­ture should be the un­der­stand­ing that mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal re­mains the sin­gle most in­flu­en­tial work in the Marx­ist po­lit­i­cal econ­omy to emerge.

Like any great the­o­ret­i­cal work that has re­tained its in­flu­ence over a long pe­riod of time, mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal’s sig­nif­i­cance de­rives not sim­ply from Gup­tarised po­lit­i­cal econ­omy of South Africa, but from the com­plex de­bates it has gen­er­ated.

We all need to un­der­stand that one can’t speak of (white) mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal and in the same tone be si­lent about cap­i­tal­ism.

In essence, mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal is a later stage of cap­i­tal­ist de­vel­op­ment. It was Lenin – Im­pe­ri­al­ism: the High­est Stage of Cap­i­tal­ism – who in­tro­duced the con­cept of “fi­nance cap­i­tal­ism” and “mo­nop­oly stage of cap­i­tal­ism”.

Lenin ex­plains:“Cap­i­tal­ism only be­came cap­i­tal­ist im­pe­ri­al­ism at a def­i­nite and very high stage of its de­vel­op­ment, when cer­tain of its fun­da­men­tal char­ac­ter­is­tics be­gan to change into their op­po­sites, when the fea­tures of the epoch of tran­si­tion from cap­i­tal­ism to a higher so­cial and eco­nomic sys­tem had taken shape and re­vealed them­selves in all spheres.

Eco­nom­i­cally, the main thing in this process is the dis­place­ment of cap­i­tal­ist free com­pe­ti­tion by cap­i­tal­ist mo­nop­oly.”

Mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal­ism, char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally, has cer­tain fea­tures where the econ­omy tends to be con­fronted with chronic prob­lems of sur­plus ab­sorp­tion, ex­cess labour, un­em­ploy­ment, un­der­em­ploy­ment and stag­na­tion.

The re­sult is al­ways grow­ing ir­ra­tional­ity at ev­ery level of the econ­omy – for ex­am­ple, so­cial in­ef­fi­ciency and mean­ing­less in­vest­ments at the ex­pense of the pub­lic purse. Such waste re­sults in the squan­der­ing of hu­man lives and ef­forts, and the trans­for­ma­tion of cap­i­tal­ism’s “cre­ative de­struc­tion” into a more per­va­sive “un­cre­ative de­struc­tion.”

I can say with­out fear of con­tra­dic­tion that, as a coun­try, we have ticked all the boxes.But most im­por­tant for as­pi­rant cadres is not so much to turn them into slo­ga­neers but to ex­plain con­cepts in sim­pler and well-un­der­stood terms.

It is for this rea­son that one can’t just end with ex­plain­ing the Marx­ian con­cep­tion of mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal­ism but to pro­vide suf­fi­cient ba­sis for bet­ter po­lit­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion.

It be­comes im­por­tant that one fur­ther ex­plains that mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal­ism, in the current epoch, has be­come ever more re­liant on cap­i­tal­ist states to serve as fa­cil­i­ta­tors, pro­tec­tors, and a dam­age con­trol mech­a­nism.

Our prob­lem is fun­da­men­tally ne­olib­eral mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal­ism. Not sur­pris­ing though, as ne­olib­er­al­ism has be­come the pre­vail­ing ide­o­log­i­cal force in the most re­cent stage of the evo­lu­tion of mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal­ism.

Ne­olib­er­al­ism marks a shift in the pur­pose of the state from the re­spon­si­bil­ity to in­sure full em­ploy­ment and pro­tect its cit­i­zens against the ex­i­gen­cies of the mar­ket to­ward the im­per­a­tive to pro­tect the mar­ket it­self.

In the ne­olib­eral era, pri­vate life and pub­lic goods are an­nexed to the mar­ket, while the sub­servience of pol­i­tics to busi­ness in­ter­ests grows more to­tal and trans­par­ent, par­tic­u­larly when ex­am­ined in the con­text of eco­nomic sur­plus funds.

Lest we for­get that the pri­mary pur­pose of ne­olib­er­al­ism is to em­power the in­sti­tu­tions of mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal con­tin­u­ally to in­crease their con­trol over eco­nomic sur­plus funds.

The ne­olib­eral ide­ol­ogy pro­poses that the ul­ti­mate and only nec­es­sary reg­u­la­tor of eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity is the mar­ket, that the eco­nomic sphere runs its course nat­u­rally and with ruth­less, log­i­cal ob­jec­tiv­ity.

It is sad that our de­bates have re­duced the politico-eco­nomic dis­course to race, that is the white­ness of mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal, with­out at­tempt­ing to dis­cern the ad­vances in cap­i­tal­ist de­vel­op­ment and racial own­er­ship of the means of pro­duc­tion. Meredale, Joburg


SOUL-DE­STROY­ING:A man search­ing for work in Cape Town. Mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal­ism has cer­tain fea­tures where the econ­omy is con­fronted with chronic prob­lems such as un­em­ploy­ment.

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