A response to Mr Daniel Sutherland’s “myth of white monopoly capital”

2016-11-23 14:51

Mr Sutherland published a post on the 21st of November entitled "The myth of white monopoly capital". This is a response to that post. I quote directly some of the assertions made by Mr Sutherland from his post, and I respond directly to each point raised on the post.

Mr Sutherland begins his opinion with this 'rudimentary' comment;

"The ANC regime has begun using the same trick, creating something it calls 'white monopoly capital'. The implied narrative is a dangerous one, of a wit gevaar, vilifying all white people, whether intended or not, creating a target for political excuse-making, and inviting violence against them from opportunists like Julius Malema"

He goes on, and asserts that;

“It is also a fiction, but a useful one because it deflects attention away from South Africa's real enemies: the incompetence, corruption, and failure of Government”

Well, I would say in part it does deflect attention away from what you call SA's real enemies, but on the other side, it also makes the general public aware of the hands that still carry a significant amount of wealth in the country. I think it is equally 'dangerous' to dismiss it as a mere 'vilification' of the so called 'white' people--because there is some truth to it, as you also unconsciously admit in your post. I shall illustrate how you admit to this later.

The truth is, ‘white’ people still have a fair share of the country’s wealth. Yes, there is corruption, incompetence and failure of government, but there is also the reality that majority of ‘white’ people own a considerable amount of the country’s wealth.

“Capital, unlike its owners, has no colour, nor does it have any political affiliation, and it certainly is not monopolized by any race or people.” You are wrong Mr Sutherland. You are conveniently disregarding an essential factor of our past--the role that 'colour' played in deciding who benefited economically, and who 'did' not. This is what Psychologists call 'nostalgia'. Remember Broederbond? That formation was premised on skin colour, Afrikaner culture and ideas of nationalism (politics). Recently, during the presidential campaigning period in America, John Edwards, an American politician criticized Hillary Clinton' vision of the future for America as that entrenched in nostalgia. Edwards said, the problem with nostalgia is that; "...you tend to remember what you liked and forget what you didn't".

In his book, the French Economist, Thomas Picketty “found” that only 1 percent owns half the global household wealth, and those are the people with Capital. More than 90% of them are old pale men. We call them ‘white’ in society. Majority of them are huge lobbyists in Euro-American politics and are causing chaos in certain parts of the global South—so they do have a political affiliation—their affiliation is aimed at amassing more wealth—similar to ‘our’ politicians, but their ‘corruption’ is never reported.

Recently (in May, 2016), during the World Economic Forum held in Rwanda, Mr Warren Buffett’s son, Howard, openly offered his support for Mr Paul Kagame 3rd term presidential bid. This came as a shock to some considering the fact that the Western society has always been critical of the third term, and have managed to influence most constitutions of the former colonies to subscribe to this ‘two’ terms government presidential period. I argue that Howard’s support is partly due to President Kagame’s support of the business aspirations of Buffett Business Empire in Rwanda.

The biggest owner of capital listed in the JSE is not necessarily the owner. Anything that is state owned, is State owned, meaning it is not private property, but State property. And, again, the biggest owner of capital listed on JSE could even be a cleaner at a house elsewhere—while her handlers are hiding somewhere. This is the case with the so called ‘black’ business men in post-apartheid South Africa. Only a handful of them actually started real businesses from scratch—majority of them are presiding over ‘white’ owned companies, or bought shares from ‘white’ hands (Lomni Mine and Mr Cyril Ramaphosa is a case in point here).

The ‘owner’ of the Billion Group, the property mogul, Mr Sisa Ngebulana could be one of the few examples business men who started from scratch. In fact, the government is only starting to notice this now with the initiatives of so called ‘black’ industrialists.

JSE listed owners, Executive and Non-Executive ‘blacks’ in ‘white’ controlled companies should not blind us from the reality, Mr Sutherland. This comment also addresses your next comment; “Therefore, white South Africans own about 24% of the JSE, directly or indirectly, less than the 26% owned by either black South Africans or the government.”

Mr Sutherland, any, Black person listed on JSE as owning Capital, in the 22 years of ‘democracy’ that person is indirectly in partnership with the well-established ‘white’ economic structure. To associate the current South African government with only ‘blacks’ is problematic. Government belongs to SA voters and voting in South Africa seized being about skin colour, so any reference to government ownership belongs to all South Africans—for that matter, majority of people who pay taxes in South Africa are ‘white’ and the small emerging ‘black’ middle class(es). So, a considerable proportion of the wealth in government hands is still owned by the same ‘white’ tax payers.

“To call this distribution a 'monopoly' by any group is plainly nothing more than gobbledygook. To call it 'white' is a disturbing lie.”

No, Mr Sutherland, it’s not meaningless and it is an intelligent view based on the reality on the ground. It is disturbing to call it ‘white’ because of the ‘state of denial’ that has bedevilled most ‘white’ South Africans since the dawn of democracy in this country, even the once progressive ‘whites’. It does not change the fact though, and that fact is, ‘white’ minority owns a significant chunk of South Africa’s wealth. The emerging ‘black’ bourgeois is nothing but ‘subsidiaries’ of the ‘white’ economic power structure that controls the media, “politics” (yes, politics), and economy including our social space. ‘White’ as a power structure, Mr Sutherland, and the more we reduce it to just skin colour the further away we are moving from the fact. This means, anyone who wants to benefit, and do it big (in business), they have to don a ‘white’ mask (if you get what I mean).

“It's true that 72% of directors in South Africa are white, but even this is not a 'monopoly'. It is also not 'capital', but 'labour'; it is not a problem with ownership, but with management. To call this 'white monopoly capital' is again uneducated and wrong.”

Again, you are wrong Sir. As I have indicated, ‘white’ is a power structure, and your paragraph above proves just that. If 72% of directors in SA are ‘white’ (based on skin pigmentation) that means the culture that permeates those companies is ‘white’ and whoever joins that structure has to subscribe to that structure.  This, Mr Sutherland is in fact ‘a monopoly’.

A monopoly is defined as exclusive possession or control-- these directors have exclusive control of the companies that they preside over. They earn bonuses and salaries that continue to allow them to lead an upper life and afford most things that ordinary people cannot afford, indirectly recreating the ‘white’ power structure—which becomes Capital. With management exposure, one could easily create their own, and therefore, the fact that 72% of directorship is still in ‘white’ hands means the ‘black’ majority will take time to reach a stage of economic liberation (where they can create their own-from scratch). So management equates to control which equates to recreation of an existing ‘white’ power structure—and that remain a monopoly.

“The fact that they have so far been unable to do so is ironically because of the ANC's failure over the past 22 years to produce the necessary education and skills in adequate numbers.”

This argument is getting obsolete. There is a considerable amount of ‘black’ South Africans who are highly skilled but cannot access senior leadership positions because of the racial ‘glass ceiling’ that still dominates the private sector, ‘post-apartheid South Africa.

Why it is normal for companies to employ a young ‘white’ man or woman, and ask a ‘black’ fellow who has been working as an assistant or who is experienced in the functions of the business to train the ‘white’ man or woman who will assume position of leadership when the old guard steps aside? Experienced and skilled ‘black’ skilled people are never promoted in some ‘white’ controlled companies in South Africa—their role is always that of showing the new ‘white’ employee the ropes of leadership in that specific company. The ‘black’ skilled employee is still overlooked in some companies in South Africa, Mr Sutherland. So, 22 years later, the private sector in South Africa is still reluctant to come to the party and help our country move forward. Huge capital is locked up in offshore banks, or in stocks because “‘white’ monopoly capital” is refusing to come to the party. Yes I said it; “White monopoly capital”.

“And even with 72% I can barely imagine even a small minority of these white directors being remotely interested in promoting regime-change or harboring sinister intentions, especially given that most of their employers and more than a quarter of their fellow directors are non-white. So when you hear one of these idiots spouting 'white monopoly capital' and other such gibberish, I hope that you, like me, tell them to stop assuming that you're stupid”

Your last paragraph is indicative of your sheer ignorance of global politics and the role of business in politics. Your reference to ‘blacks’ as “non-whites” is indicative of your position in what I thought was an objective non-partisan argument in your article. I shall not engage you on it.

With all that being said, I also need to state ‘categorically’ that I hate the use of the phrase “White Monopoly Capital”, I have never used it whether in my everyday dialogues or in my writings. I understand that politicians, especially ‘black’ politics use this phrase conveniently to score political points. However, I’ve never been under any illusion that such does not exist—the history of our country and what we see around us proves that it does exist. Unless one is in denial, and as Mr Sutherlands claims, I’m not stupid for believing that it actually exists—it is all around me—even a blind men could feel.

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