The new-kid-on-the-block, Capitalist Party of South Africa, is anything but capitalist if one reads its founding principles carefully. And it’s the last thing South Africa needs, despite the country’s multiple problems.
There’s no denying that South Africa is facing serious challenges. Rolling blackouts, millions living in shacks, education hanging by a thread, widespread corruption, racist employment laws, rampant crime and heartbreaking violence.
Not surprisingly, many recognise that South Africa desperately needs hope and a way forward by way of an alternative political party. What the country doesn’t need, however, is a bunch of leftist snake-oil salesmen masquerading as capitalists.
Before we get started, I’d like to point out that I don’t know any of the founders of the Capitalist Party of South Africa (ZACP) and that I’m in no way affiliated to the party or any of its opponents. I have met Kanthan Pillay briefly twice if memory serves, and we did have a minor disagreement many years ago over something a mutual friend wanted for a website. I mention it just in case anyone tries to make something out of nothing and my not mentioning it suddenly becomes a thing. Yes, I’m paranoid.
When I heard about the Capitalist Party of South Africa, my cold grumpy heart twitched a little. I think that might have been joy or an impending heart attack; who knows. What I’d hoped is that the ZACP would help South Africa move to a system of voluntary exchange. No more racist employment laws, no more minimum wage, no more welfare, no more forced union memberships, just buyers and sellers in the market finding an equilibrium.
For those unfamiliar, voluntary exchanges are the core of the market transactions that underpin capitalism. The win is that allowing people to co-operate and engage willingly in mutually-beneficial transactions, would do much to alleviate poverty through economic growth. But the ZACP is not suggesting a system of voluntary exchange as far as I can tell. From what I can see, the party has been quite specific in its wording to exclude this well-known concept. What the party has put forward while claiming to be able to achieve the same result as a system of voluntary exchange is, in my opinion, disguised socialism.
ZACP’s principles can be found here. Let’s have a look at Principle 1: Liberty.
Bullet point number two under the heading “1. Liberty” of the ZACP’s principles states: “…but when it comes to what to do politically – what should the government do – we should ask one question: does this increase or does it reduce the freedom of the individual?” That point, badly worded as it is, looks like the premise for libertarianism, that premise being that government should leave the people alone. Bullet point three states: “Government should only act to prevent harm to others.” That point has its roots in the Harm Principle from John Stuart Mill’s 1859 book On Liberty. Libertarians have a slightly modified version that they call the non-aggression principle but it’s the same thing.
Great, the party has a principle that aims to ensure that government acts only to prevent harm to others. Awesome, or at least it would be if the party abided by it. Riddle me this: If the ZACP’s first principle – Liberty – argues that government should only act to prevent harm to others, why does the ZACP have 10 interventionist plans that have nothing to do with preventing harm?
Not to put too fine a point on it, but the ZACP isn’t even in Parliament yet and it’s evidently not capable of honouring what is arguably its most fundamental principle. I’m dying of laughter here. This is the crowd that ends each of its solution plan videos with: “You tell us what’s broken, we’ll tell you how to fix it.”
If you’re in the mood for more of a laugh, check out my previous article that points out a number of issues with four of the party’s 10 plans. One of those plans is education. Instead of going to market and engaging the company that is already solving the education problem in South Africa (Spark Schools), the purple clown-show proposes switching the schooling system to the double-shift model, which is great for the budget and ok for educational quality. My point here is that Marxists push interventionism and the fool’s gold that is legislative abracadabra whereas capitalists prefer to let the market figure things out.
Again, not to put too fine a point on it, but if you’d be so kind as to click here, you’ll be taken to the ZACP’s plans. At the end of each summary for each plan, you should notice some variation of: “When elected, we will push for this to be made law.” Legislative abracadabra. What you won’t see is links to research, data, or anything else that shows that what’s being proposed by our purple central planners, is actually needed or has a chance of working. What you definitely won’t see is an explanation as to how the proposed legislative changes honour the party’s Liberty principle.
The idea of a human right called the “right to work” was coined by the French socialist leader Louis Blanc. The logical response to the folly of such a right is: What if there aren’t any jobs available? According to the ZACP’s principles, which can be found here, you might be relieved to read that the party has worded its right-to-work principle in a way that is very much in line with the principle of voluntary exchange we discussed earlier. Awesome! Not really. If the party meant voluntary exchange, then it’s reasonable to expect that the party would have named it as such. What’s been done is the use of a socialist title combined with a capitalist explanation.
Talking out of both sides of their mouths is nothing new for politicians. Formally, the tactic is an error in reasoning known as the if-by-whiskey fallacy. The tactic is intended to allow someone to support both sides of an issue by playing off of people’s opinions. If a Marxist asks, the answer is that it’s the right to work. If a capitalist asks, it’s one of the three bullet points underneath the title. Nothing new in the world of politics. You may think that it’s a mistake on the party’s part and that I’m being too cynical; however, one of the party’s founders is a politics major from Princeton University. Still think I’m cynical? Who knows, maybe I am, but methinks not.
The reason why an if-by-whiskey is a problem is that there’s no way to tell what policy decisions might be made later. Will the person advocate for what you support or against it? Luckily, the ZACP has made its plans public. So, does the party want a system of voluntary exchange? You tell me. The party proposes a negative income tax. Quite literally taking money from people who have earned it, to give that money to people who have not earned it. The party literally wants wealth extracted from one group by force of the state to be redistributed to other groups. If that isn’t socialism and an outright violation of capitalism’s voluntary exchange principle, you tell me what is.
That’s not to say that I don’t support some social safety nets, I do. Orphans, wards of the state, the prohibitively disabled, the prohibitively sick, and the elderly (as in the frail). By prohibitively, I mean not capable of doing any gainful work. I’m disabled, I have ocular albinism and as such, I’m literally half blind. I was born with that disability and was dealt a terrible hand with a viciously abusive parent who beat the living daylights out of me from age six to 17. One doctor suggested that I probably suffered traumatic brain injuries as a result. Yet, I’ve lived and worked all over the world earning good money in exchange for good work. If I can manage…
As argued in my previous article, the party’s solutions are largely snake-oil. In both this and my previous article, I’ve argued that the party quacks, err moos, like a suspiciously Marxist cow. Maybe I’m wrong and my opinions are unreasonable. If so, I’m open to being corrected on the merits.
I won’t hold my breath though.
Oh, and if you’ve got a minute, you might want to look up the Jacobin Club. The club’s infamous leader Maximilien Robespierre coined the phrase “liberté, égalité, fraternité” that the ZACP has adopted as its values. Because linking the one country in the world that was able to have a bloodless revolution to one of history’s bloodiest revolutions is just such great PR. Never mind the leftist and notoriously interventionist nature of the Jacobins. MOO!
- Seb Garrioch is chief executive officer of the Bubbleflake Corporation, a free speech social media platform based in Wilmington, US
OPINION: Seb Garrioch