Dr. Martin Luther King Jr once said “Communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social, and the kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of communism nor the antithesis of capitalism but in a higher synthesis. It is found in a higher synthesis that combines the truths of both.”
The world, as it is, is currently ruled by two main political systems- Capitalism and Socialism, with the former taking the largest share. Capitalism is the right while Socialism is the left. The collapse of the Soviet Union has seen Communism and Marxism give way to Socialism, which, in some countries, has also given way to Social Democracy, which I regard as a compromise between Capitalism and Socialism. Realizing the domineering nature of Capitalism in today’s geo-politics, many countries which were originally Communist or Socialist, have infused Capitalism into their systems and called their systems with names which are more acceptable politically.
In my view, this is the only way a country can survive in this capitalism dominated world, where the world’s economy is dominated by the United States of America (USA), a capitalist country. After all, such critical institutions as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are controlled by capitalist countries, mainly the USA. In fact, it is the USA which determines who becomes the president of the World Bank. Not only that. The world’s currency is the US Dollar.
The Peoples Republic of China, for instance, refers to its system as Socialism with Chinese characteristics. But the truth is that their system is Capitalism with socialist characteristics. The same applies to the Russian Federation. Countries which have remained purely Communist or Socialist are failing. In fact, some are failed states, not because there is anything fundamentally wrong with Communism or Socialism per se, but because the world order is capitalist in nature.
Take the communist Republic of Cuba, for instance. One wonders why its education system, especially in natural sciences is so good that it exports medical doctors to many countries in the world, but it performs dismally in all other aspects of the economy. In Botswana, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), which has been in power since independence in 1966, is capitalist while the Opposition is predominantly socialist though, of late, some profess to be social democrats.
Empirical evidence suggests that both the BDP and the Opposition have moved more to the center. The Botswana National Front (BNF) has moved from the Communist, even Marxist, era of Dr. Kenneth Koma, especially during his formative years, and is today leaning more towards Socialism, even Social Democracy. No wonder the BNF has, over the years, sidelined such disciples of Marxism and Communism as the late Dr. Elmon Tafa and Gabriel Kajabanga.
The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) was formed mostly by those who defected from the BNF partly because they leaned more towards social democracy, even capitalism and no longer fitted well in the then predominantly Socialist BNF. Many Opposition leaders have, themselves, committed the so-called class suicide and abandoned their leftist leanings, with some going to the extent of joining the capitalist BDP. Many Opposition leaders are, for all intents and purposes, capitalist borgeousies whose progress, as Karl Marx said, resembles that hideous, pagan idol, who would not drink the nectar but from the skulls of the slain.
I would not go as far as Karl Marx did for that would suggest that Capitalism is evil. It is not. It, just like Communism and Socialism, has its imperfections, but it is not evil. Who would have thought that hitherto hard-core leftists as Meshack Mthimkhulu would one day join the BDP and become cabinet ministers who sing praise songs for Capitalism?
Who would have thought that Kagiso Ntime would one day chant the BDP slogan ‘Tsholetsa’ though he later resigned from the BDP and is apparently currently non-aligned? But they did. Does that make them bad people? No. Does that make them good people? No. All it does is that it confirms that they are humans who, like all of us, are endowed with the right to the freedoms of choice and conscience.
The BDP too has moved more towards the left over the years. We have seen more government intervention, especially in the Agricultural sector, something which is characteristic of Socialism. Also, under the BDP’s rule, especially from the tenure of former president Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, Botswana has become more of a social welfare state, something which is characteristic of Socialism. The question is: does it matter whether a government has capitalist or socialist leanings? In an attempt to answer this question, we return to Martin Luther King Jr’s quotation cited at the beginning of this article.
One of Dr. King’s criticism of Communism is that it forgets that life is individual. His criticism of Capitalism is that it forgets that life is social. I agree, for human existence requires both the individual and the society. Meaningful human existence is not about the individual or the society. It is about both.
If Communism is the thesis and Capitalism is the antithesis, both are requisite to make life whole. Therefore, Dr King is right when he says the kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of communism nor the antithesis of capitalism but in a higher synthesis. It is found in a higher synthesis that combines the truths of both.
In Chinese philosophy, there is the Yin and Yang concept of dualism which describes how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another. In my view, the same applies to Communism and Socialism. There is no doubt that both Communism and Socialism have wrongs and rights. None of them is perfect. What humanity needs to do is to use the good in each ideology to uplift itself.
For many years, I subscribed to Socialism and abhorred Capitalism, but of late I have come to the realization that both are essential for human existence. After all, it is not about Capitalism or Socialism, it is about people welfare. In any event, many voters do not even know about Capitalism or Socialism. All they care about is such bread and butter issues as health care, refuse collection, sanitation, job creation, poverty eradication, good roads, clean water, et cetera. To them, the political ideology of the person who delivers on such of their needs and wants matters not. What matters to them is quality life. After all, it is not about Capitalism or Socialism, it is about people welfare!
Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.
The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.
Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.
At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.
Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.
Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).
This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.
In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.
Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?
Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.
POSITIVITY Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.
“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)
We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”
Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.
Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be. You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”
Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.
When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.
Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.
However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.” “Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)
COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT
Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.
It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.
Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.
Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.
The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.
It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.