By Tefo Mohapi
I had the opportunity in 2011 to be part of a delegation organised by the African National Congress’ Progressive Business Forum (ANC PBF) and led by the Deputy Minister of Finance (Mr Nhlanhla Nene) to visit Havana, Cuba to explore any synergies in business as Cuba under Fidel Castro’s younger brother (Raul Castro) is exploring ways to open up its market place and encourage entrepreneurship.
There-in lies the hint that communism is dead. Possibly the last bastion of communism, Fidel Castro’s and the Cuba that Ernesto Guevara fought for, is considering and encouraging its citizens to pursue entrepreneurship and allow them to “exchange” real estate, albeit with some government involvement.
Roaming the streets and bars of Havana you get a sense of a laid back place, with low or no crime, no beggars and no homeless people. It is once you start interacting with the locals outside the tourist areas that you realise that there is no way communism is going to last.
The human spirit of ambition and to better oneself is still burning within the bellies of Cuba’s people even though most of them don’t know any better given the movement restrictions (you have to apply to leave your province and get permission from government to leave the country). Many, if not all, are well educated. There was a bar man who had a Master’s degree. Yet, given that the government controls everything, he had to settle for the job available. Also note, he earns a similar wage as a medical doctor with perhaps a few government afforded benefits as the difference.
Many profess love for Cuba yet yearn for the day they can be masters of their own destinies.
How far Cuba will go with their “new version” of communism (read baby steps towards a free market system) will remain to be seen, but it is certain as we have witnessed with China and the fall of the Soviet Union that communism is unsustainable and cannot last, but mainly I believe because communism has not evolved.
On the other hand, capitalism continues to evolve.
With every recession and depression many profess “the end is nigh” yet like any organism it evolves to adapt to its new environment in a Darwin kind of manner.
Given the recession started by mainly by the Lehman Brothers scandal, the drive within capitalism has slowly been towards “conscious capitalism”, “capitalism with emphasis on three bottom lines (financial, environmental, social)” or as some put it “Social Capitalism”.
Also, technology and the internet are playing a significant role in the evolution of capitalism. Contrast this with a communist state where innovation can only take place with government permission and you start to understand why communism when viewed as a living organism, is bound to die as it does not evolve. Yet capitalism, given that it adpats and is a collective effort of all who partake in it, will continue to evolve and thrive.
NB: I am not a member of the ANC nor any political party.
This post first appeared on tefomohapi.com and is published with permission.