The challenges of building a caring society

Published on Pambazuka News, by Douglas Mthukwane, March 8, 2012.

Is the liberation struggle over? If not, what are we fighting? And how can we build a caring society?

The question of building a caring society within a framework of an economy dominated by private ownership is a key question at the heart of what is confronting revolutionary forces. It is certainly not a simple question with simple answers. Whatever answers are provided will go a long way in shedding light on whether we are still involved in the national democratic revolution and liberation struggle.  

If we are still involved in a liberation struggle, the next question to ask is from what we want to liberate ourselves from? Do we want to liberate ourselves from colonialism of a special type? Do we want to liberate ourselves from apartheid colonialism? From what do we want to liberate ourselves from?

This is one of the basic questions that we need to answer in answering the question of building a caring society within the framework of capitalism. In my view a caring society is a society where there is no exploitation of one person by the other, a society where all the surplus value is not appropriated by the wealthy, a society where there is no poverty in the sea of wealth. It is a society where the majority of the people are not reduced to begging and not knowing where the next meal will come from, a society based on ubuntu not greed.

How can this society be created in a situation whereby the ruling classes have at their disposal a formidable range of weapons for the maintenance of their domination and the defence of their power and privileges. How then are these ruling classes to be undone, and how is a new social order to be established? If we say we are still involved in a liberation struggle, does it mean that we want to do away with this domination and create a new social order?

Or does it mean we want to be accommodated in the existing social order? May I pose this question again: as a liberation movement from what do we want to liberate ourselves? If our answer is to liberate ourselves from economic exploitation engendered by the existing capitalist mode of production, how then can we seek our liberation by being accommodated in the same system that exploits us? … //

… According to Eduardo Galeano:

  • No fewer than three millions civilians died in the DRC since 1999. They died for Coltan, a rare mineral that is used in the manufacturing of cell phones, computers, etc.
  • More than 40 years ago Patrice Lumumba was sacrificed on the alter of gold and diamonds.
  • In the Darfur region of Sudan close to a million people have been killed and sacrificed because of oil.
  • In Iraq thousands of people have been maimed and killed because of oil and as a consequence the country has been reduced to ashes.
  • A state of siege is imposed on poor countries to either privatise or face death.

In our country (South Africa) how many millions of people have been annihilated since the arrival of the colonialists in 1652?

In the light of these mind boggling facts, who dares to suggest that a caring society can be created in the womb of capitalism? If that is the case we can all throw ourselves in the jaws of a shark and see whether we can emerge alive. Unfortunately this is not the age of miracles. The capitalist nigger, the road to success, is but only for the few.

The fact is that a caring society will be born on the ashes of capitalism. Capitalism must first die in order for a caring society to be born. There is no other way. Any other way is a futile exercise and infantile wishful thinking.
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