Rebuilding Foundations

An exploration of international development work in Africa


According to Sudarsan Raghavan of the Washington Post, ZA is on the verge of falling apart:

In South Africa, Disillusionment with the Party that Ended Apartheid

Which goes against what the people who actually live here seem to believe:

My friend sent me the article referenced in the blog post above because of my answer when he asked, “Africa is so far behind the rest of the world in terms of development. How long do you think it’ll take us to catch up?”

Me: “Maybe in one definition of development, but – .”

Him: “No, it is! You can’t deny that Africa hasn’t been able to catch up with the rest of world. Even though India has a colonial history, it has still been able to grow into a powerful nation.”

*Discussion back and forth about postcolonial countries and their societies prior European contact. Eventually getting back to original question.*

Me: “To be honest, I think the current neoliberal capitalist system is going to collapse before Africa ever catches up.”

Him: [surprised expression] “What do you mean?””

Me: “The beauty of capitalism is its ability to reinvent itself despite small crises. But over the past few years, the crises we’ve experienced haven’t been small anymore: the 2008 economic meltdown, Europe. I don’t think people will stand for it much longer.”

Him: “And where will this revolution start?”

Me: “I think in the United States. Occupy was just the beginning.”

So don’t worry South Africa! The world’s economic system needs a major overhaul anyways. In fact, I think this country would do better trying to create its own definition of prosperity and success instead of trying to catch up with western standards.

Although, by western standards, the business leaders in this country are doing a fine job of exploiting the poor. Ah, capitalism at its best.


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3 thoughts on “Capitalism

  1. Lynne Alton on said:

    Hello Bethany! I also think that our world’s economic system isn’s working , that more and more I, and others, are starting to say that environmentally, socially, economically things are not okay and are wanting to be part of creating some healthier ways of living together. Know this wanting to learn about alternate “models” was at least part of my going to Vancouver this past weekend for a Che Guevera Conference organized by a group called Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (met many of the young people in this group two years ago when I went to Cuba on a Che Guevera volunteer work brigade). The theme of this year’s conference was Cuba’s social and economic reforms- socialism or capitalism? with speakers from Cuba (one of them Che’s daughter, Aleida Guevera) and Canada (one a professor of UBC’s International Field Studies in Sustainable Agriculture- Wendy Holm- who organizes the Canada -Cuba Farmer to Farmer Project. )
    Each of the speakers said that Cuba continues to face huge economic and social challenges( the 50 year old US embargo is one of them) and that their system of government is not perfect. After much deep thinking and consultation with the Cuban people about a year and a half ago they are starting with some economic “transformations”such as encouraging young people to take up farming by giving them land , giving people opportunities to own their own businesses and encouraging cooperatives while continuing Cuba’s previous programs of education and health care for all and continuing their “internationalist” program of sending Cuban doctors to countries all over the world.
    It was a pretty fun conference with excellent speakers, food and music. Came back thinking I want to learn more about cooperatives!!
    I do appreciate the information you share on your blog, and your personal insights and perspectives. Thanks, Bethany.

    • Hi Lynne,

      Thanks for sharing! The Che Guevera Conference sounds fascinating. Cuba is such an interesting country. In a famous graph of the 2003 UN Development Index versus Ecological Footprint per Capita, Cuba was the only country with a high standard of living that was also under the Earth’s resource use/capita capacity limit. I can’t attach an image in this comment, but the graph is the first one that pops up in this google search:,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&bpcl=37643589&biw=1280&bih=603&wrapid=tlif135227016378510&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=YwGaUIJ-pabRBZ__gdgH

      Seems like Cuba is doing something right!

      One the other hand, many of my friends who have visited Cuba say that there is a growing disillusionment among the youth towards the communist government. Then again, no system is perfect. Hopefully they can continue their economic “transformations” to improve their society.

      I think you would enjoy the book “The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone” (2009) by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. The authors do a fabulous job of linking social problems to economic causes as well as provide some useful suggestions for how to improve our societies – such as cooperatives.

      All the best,

  2. WHOHH!! Occupy! 😀

    Well said.

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