State ‘capture’ or the nature of the state?

by Shawn Hattingh (ZACF)zupta

Across the political spectrum, individuals and organisations have been expressing their disgust and shock that a faction – indeed a single family, the Guptas – have ‘captured’ the state. Consequently, there have been calls for state ‘capture’ to be ended though firing Zuma.

The Gupta’s offering cabinet posts to politicians, if true, was brazen and corrupt. While the fact that a section of capitalists – in this case a family – have such influence over the state should disgust us; it should not come as a surprise. To understand why, it is important to look at what states are, why they arose, and whose interests they serve. Coupled to this, it is essential to look at a few examples of how the state and capitalism in South Africa have always been defined by cronyism and corruption.

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Beyond “Zuma must fall”, beyond choosing between elites

by Warren McGregor (TAAC, ZACF)

706x410q70Ranjeni-Fees-momentA constant fixation on the machinations of elite power manoeuvring, and persistent, recurring calls for either new leadership, or new political parties, are evidence of a very conservative and authoritarian political culture. These stories may well be important. Indeed, this is the nature of current socio-economic organisation (capitalism and the state). These human-created forms of control always operate to centralise power up the hierarchy, thus investing tremendous power in the hands of very few. This few – race, gender, rhetoric regardless – the ruling class, are those who control the means of production, administration and coercion. Our pre-occupations are drawn to such elite individuals and groups as many of us have chosen to hand over our political power and future to these. Now this political culture usually results in the general and often vain belief and hope that through hierarchical, fundamentally undemocratic organisation, leaders invested with this incredible power are somehow to create the foundations for a more equal society and world. Also important to consider is that all political parties, no matter the colour of its beret, whether in control of the state or seeking to attain this control, centralise the power of decision-making upwards, and are thus fundamentally authoritarian and anti-democratic.
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