What if am a Social Capitalist?

By Wilfred Zulu

Lately there has been intense debate in Zambia over the feasibility, or lack of it, of socialism as an economic ideology in the contemporary world order. The hype largely stems from the launch of the Socialist Party with Fred M’membe, a fervent journalist whose newspaper business (The Post) collapsed under the weight of state power, as its presidential candidate in 2021

The aroma of a socialist economy can admittedly be enticing: social economic progress, reduced inequality, non-exploitation of the poor by the rich, protectionism which is good for industrialisation, and perhaps selfless leadership in the manner and fashion of Che Guevara or our own Thomas Sankara.

Thomas Sankara

But since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union, capitalism, buoyed by the strength of globalisation has become, arguably, unchallenged economic prototype. Zambia, like many other African countries abandoned socialist ideas which were blamed for rampaging poverty and under-development.

But I am made to wonder of capitalism; it is about wealth accumulation; it’s about economic growth (not to think of economic development). These should be good for any economy as jobs and social protection can be guaranteed. Yes, I believe Zambia has enjoyed some level of growth, in GDP terms averaging 5% since the dawn of the new millennium. But who has benefitted from this growth when rural poverty is about 70%, conservatively speaking? I posit that it is the rich, because that is what capitalism is about. The last time I checked, Zambia’s gini-ratio was 0.6, making the country one of the most unequal societies in the world.

Now I am made to wonder that if socialism is obsolete as it discourages investment and growth; and capitalism promotes inequality, what is the best economic ideology Zambia should have? I argue that a combination of both would be good [social capitalism] as it encourages improvements in the social wellbeing of the people whilst at the same time promoting the ideals of capitalism. I think China has that sort of ideology. Ever heard of Socialism with Chinese characteristics? It was a robust economic reform programme initiated under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping in 1978 which has catapulted the country to the second largest economy in the world from the Chairman Mao era when China was spiraling in an economic black hole.

Maybe I should be a social capitalist!!!!!



The author is a student of Master of International Relations at Mulugushi University.


Disclaimer : The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the Union

Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of the Union.

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