Here’s why SA’s “comrades” embrace failed Soviet style economic policies

Lifelong learning comes in many forms. The best for me is through books. And right now I’m getting a serious education from Irina Filatova and Apollon Davidson. Helping me make sense of some rather confused economic decisions by my country.

The duo’s book, The Hidden Thread, tracks the history of relations between Russia and South Africa. It is taking time to digest. Not surprisingly as it is densely packed with the kind of fascinating information you’d expect in an award winning manuscript – Media 24s best non-fiction title of 2014.

Among the conclusions able to be drawn although only halfway through is the reason why so many African countries adopted the destructive Soviet economic path when a far better option was available through free enterprise. Colonialists were Western. Their counter was the Soviet Union, benefactor of most African liberation movements (and close ally of the ANC). So it was entirely rational for newly independent nations to follow the lead of their funder and philosophical guide.

Which was most unfortunate, as it happens. Because its collapse in 1989 revealed, the Soviet Union’s economic system was always headed for disaster, spreading misery and hardship. It has taken African nations years of similar self-imposed pain to appreciate this reality. Most have been readjusting. South Africa? Our home grown “comrades” prefer to learn from their own experience. If you thought education was expensive, try ignorance.

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