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Rising manifestations of inequality in the South African context and the effects of globalisation.

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Globalisation has become the defining process of the present age. "In the past century, there has been a technological explosion, largely in the domain of transportation and information, that makes the interactions of a print-dominated world seem as hard-won and as easily erased as the print revolution made earlier forms of cultural traffic appear." (Appadurai 47). Globalisation is a very uneven process, with unequal distribution of benefits and losses. "This imbalance leads to polarisation between the few countries and groups that gain, and the many countries and groups in society that lose out or are marginalized." (Khor 53). The uneven and unequal nature of the present globalisation is manifested and reflected by the fast growing gap between the world's (and more specially South Africa's), rich and poor people and between developed and developing countries; and by the large differences among nations in the distribution of gains and losses. "The complexity of the current global economy has to do with certain fundamental disjunctures between economy, culture, and politics..." (Appadurai 50). The manifestation of inequality as an effect of globalisation stems from several factors in the South African context and due to several weaknesses to be discussed; South Africa has been unable to reap the benefits of globalisation as the developed world has experienced and reaped these benefits. South Africa entered globalisation with a weak social infrastructure due largely to the apartheid regime experience and economic weakness due to a lack of domestic economic capacity. South Africa faces the dilemma of whether it should open itself up to the globalisation process wholly (in the hope of obtaining benefits), or to take a more cautious approach to avoid risks. "The challenge is whether developing countries can take advantage of the liberalisation process, whilst at the same time avoiding or minimising the disruptive consequences on their societies and economies." (Khor 55). In the South African context, the ability of the government to manage liberalisation and globalisation will be a crucial aspect of national policy making currently, and in the years ahead. ...read more.


of the ANC's raison d'�tre. Neglect of this North-South axis results in many oversights. The left legacies that come to us from the 20th century are not confined, as Forrest implies, to two competing currents - social democracy on the one hand, and a "thoroughly discredited" Marxism on the other. There are at least two other prominent left traditions. There is the "new left" (in fact, a very old tradition of social movement struggles); and (more salient for our purposes here) radical Third World nationalism. This latter, a major tradition, is personified by such diverse figures as Jose Marti, Mahatma Gandhi, arguably Mao Zedong and, of course, Nelson Mandela. Radical Third World nationalism has had its own complex relationship with the other major left traditions, variously influencing, coopting or rejecting. But radical Third World nationalism deserves to be understood also as its own reality, and not merely as a failed attempt to imitate Foot or Blair's Labour Party. Radical Third World nationalism answers to an objective reality. Our own country, for instance, remains stubbornly enmeshed in a pre-1994, semi-colonial accumulation path. The economy we have somewhat stabilised (and I am not saying we should not have) remains an enclave, a substantial enclave but an enclave whose performance remains largely irrelevant to the lives of the great majority of South Africans. While the "fundamentals" in the enclave are "all in place", November's Statistics South Africa data confirms the persisting (and in terms of household income) deepening inequality of our society. It also confirms the ongoing racialised trajectory of this reality - between 1995 and 2000 the average black household's income deteriorated 19%, the average white household's income improved by 15%. These are the symptoms of 130 years of a dependent, externally driven, enclave development path from which we have not yet been able to break. And this is where Forrest's neglect of the North-South axis leads to another confusion, a simple contrasting between social democratic reform ("good") ...read more.


"Countries should have a national strategic development plan of their own, based on a fully participatory process which will get agreement on levels of savings, investment and productivity." At the end of the meeting Fidel Castro, who was present throughout the session, went up on the platform to greet the officials personally. At a subsequent plenary session he spoke for six hours, from 7pm to 1am, on the crisis faced by Cuba after the collapse of the socialist bloc in 1991 exacerbated by the US economic blockade of 1992, the most ferocious in the world's history. Cuba's gross domestic product fell 35% between 1989 and 1993, the fiscal deficit increased to 30% and imports fell 75% over four years. The government was hard pressed to find markets for exports like sugar and nickel and shipping refused to enter Cuba's harbours due to retaliation by the US. In a long address he listed the country's achievements and recovery, saying that "our country has become a gigantic university". My own impressions of Cuba were restricted to a fine five-star hotel and conference centre, and a brief visit to the beautiful Old City of Havana and a visit to a jazz caf� in the more modern part of Havana. But the problems of Cuba are also evident in the decay of many buildings, in a certain indifference in shop assistants, in the visible prostitution and in a degree of political fatigue. Having to travel by devious routes and many airports to get to Cuba, I share their anger and frustration at the wicked blockade imposed by the US and its effect on the ordinary lives of the Cuban people. Yet Cuba and Latin America present a world of intellectual challenge to the world order and the search is on for an alternative model which will require much debate and the canvassing of many different views. Above all we need to recover the right to a sustainable development path, and given our own South African problems, we may be able to play a useful part in generating some solutions. ...read more.

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