LETTER: Reverse the logic of exclusion
The unintended continuation of apartheid racial barriers is hampering our quest for equality
Brian Kantor writes that the politics of resentment may explain the overlooking of judge David Unterhalter for a seat in the Constitutional Court (“The politics of resentment”, October 11). He says he may well have felt the same had he been born black in SA. Nonetheless, he argues, this attitude costs the country dear.
There is something strange going on here. Under white apartheid governance, black people were largely excluded from working with and competing with whites. This was due to a plethora of laws, including job reservation in favour of whites. The majority were not allowed to participate in the economy.
It is critical here to realise that our economy (like all modern economies) is an activity or set of activities and not an asset. Perhaps it is not only resentment driving the wedge between the majority and the minority. Perhaps many in the majority misconstrue the nature of the economy.
If the economy were indeed an asset, or set of assets, it might make sense to exclude minorities, who have flourished in the past. But the economy is not an asset. The “logic” of seeking to exclude members of the minority from leading positions is therefore misdirected.
This logic should be reversed. Value in today’s economy is inherent to human capital. Due to the unpardonable exclusion of the majority over centuries, such capital has to a considerable extent become monopolised in the minority. Without access to this capital, the majority will remain excluded from the world economy.
However, this is what current attitudes dictate. We now have the anomalous situation that in the past black people were not allowed to compete with white people, and now we find that many black people refuse to compete with whites.
Such attitudes constitute an unintended continuation of apartheid racial barriers, and hence a continued monopolisation of intellectual capital (or “human and social capital”, as the National Development Plan puts it) in the privileged minority.
This is a tragic loss of opportunity for everyone in SA. We must reverse our attitude if we are to achieve a better life for all.
Willem Cronje, Cape Town
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