Saliem Fakir - South Africa's unemployment problem has been persistent since 1994, long before the migration of Africans from elsewhere. To unravel the problem, we must examine the behaviour of South African capital in the regional economy. The period after 1994 didn't just lead to trade liberalisation affecting our manufacturing and agricultural sectors adversely, it also enabled domestic capital to expand regionally to access a surplus market. Consequently, capital has had no need to do a balancing act to ensure that labour growth and demand are in sync. In this regard, we must question private capital's commitment to job creation in the country.
Steve Ellner - Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro, has struggled to keep the country stable since the death of his predecessor Hugo Chavez. Leftists in Venezuela put forward a number of different explanations for the pressing economic difficulties and growing discontent that threatens the nation and increases the possibility of an opposition takeover of the National Assembly in this year's elections. High on the list of explanations is an unfavourable comparison between the charisma and political acumen of the late Chavez and the inferior leadership qualities of Maduro. However, a rigorous analysis of the Venezuelan government's current predicament shows that the roots of the country's crisis date back to Chavez's time.
Walden Bello - The late Singapore strongman Lee Kuan Yew famously argued that Asia was no place for liberal democracy. Instead, he argued for a kind of soft authoritarianism guided by "Asian values," where the harmony of a one-party state trumped the messiness of competitive elections. For years, many of his peers seemed to agree. Then, when Burma's military took its baby steps away from dictatorship four years ago, it seemed that in a region where the merits of authoritarianism and democracy had been hotly debated for decades, democracy had finally gained the upper hand. The question on the mind of many Singaporeans is not if, but when Lee's legacy of totalitarian social engineering will follow the "Old Man" into the grave.
Richard Pithouse - There is an extraordinary degree of popular protest in South Africa. It is diverse, dynamic and unstable and it includes elements that are emancipatory, contradictory and reactionary. This degree of sustained popular dissent - long organised and expressed outside of liberal frameworks, and increasingly also organised and expressed at a distance from the ruling party - provides fertile ground for building popular organisations. But, with important exceptions, the vast bulk of the money and energies channelled through the NGO left in recent years has failed, often completely, to support any kind of effective movement building process.
Chris Hedges - There is no decadence like the decadence of rich white people. I knew a billionaire who in retirement spent his time on a yacht smoking weed and being catered to by a string of high-priced prostitutes. The children of rich white families - surrounded by servants and coddled in private schools, never having to fly on commercial airlines or take public transportation - develop a lassitude, sometimes accompanied by a drug habit, that often leads them to idle away their lives as social parasites. Mothers never have to be mothers. Fathers never have to be fathers. The help does the parenting.
Watch - There's never been a better time to become a recording artist. Recording is cheaper than ever; bands have direct access to fans and record labels are no longer gatekeepers. The same is true for visual art. More people are choosing to be artists, and last year the art market reached a record US$66 billion in global sales. But who is really benefitting from this brave new world? In the music industry, 99% of recording artists share 23% of global revenue, meaning that 1% share 77% of global revenue. At the same time, the visual art world has its own 1%.
Watch - Most people agree that we need to improve our economic system somehow. Yet we're also often keen to dismiss the ideas of capitalism's most famous and ambitious critic, Karl Marx. This isn't very surprising. In practice his political and economic ideas have been used to design disastrously planned economies and nasty dictatorships. Nevertheless, we shouldn't reject Marx too quickly. We ought to see him as guide whose diagnosis of capitalism's ills helps us to navigate towards a more promising future. Capitalism is going to have to be reformed and Marx's analyses are going to be part of any answer.
Watch - David Graeber is an anthropologist, a leading figure in the Occupy movement and author of the book, Debt: The First Five Thousand Years. He addresses the current age of 'total bureaucratization', rife with rules and regulations, in which public and private power has gradually fused into a single entity whose ultimate purpose is the extraction of wealth in the form of profits. Graeber considers what it would take, in terms of intellectual clarity, political will and imaginative power to conceive and build a flourishing and fair future economy, which would maximise the scope for individual and collective creativity and be sustainable and just.
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