A mini-thesis on my line of argument on the current online debate by supporters of UDP and PDOIS regarding capitalism and communism

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A mini-thesis on my line of argument on the current online debate by supporters of UDP and PDOIS regarding capitalism and communism

Disclaimer:

I am neither a party supporter of the United Democratic Party – UDP nor a member of the People’s Democratic Organization for Independence and Socialism – PDOIS. The views expressed here are strictly mine and do not represent those of the mentioned political parties, groups, or organizations in The Gambia.  

As a passionate person who loves to engage and have a conversation with a cross-section of the Gambian society to discuss and debate on national issues based on my vested interest in “Building The Gambia We Want”, I would like to join my compatriots (i.e., supporters of the UDP and the PDOIS, and other apolitical citizens), to share my thoughts in their points of arguments online regarding their parties leaning toward capitalism and socialism. I applauded them for engaging in such a productive discourse to counter-argue and constructively critique their party’s adopted economic models. That’s quite encouraging all geared to democratize ideas on issue-based policies on what they’ll do if they are voted into office come 2021. I have seen each trying to weigh one another down with strong arguments based on their understanding of the two critical economic systems as it relates to their respective party’s positions, i.e., manifestos, programs, and policies.

For the sake of clarity, I’m not here to state who is right or wrong, on the debated models, neither am I a member of the two political parties nor a member of any established organization or group in The Gambia and beyond. I want to interject and remind all those engaged in this critical debate to take a profound reflection on the historical genesis behind capitalism in the world’s economy. I need not belabor on the subject as renowned scholars of economics have provided brilliant pieces about the birth of capitalism and materials of such nature can be accessed both print and electronic means for anyone interested to know, and have a deeper understanding of capitalism. Capitalism is the poster child of the developed world, and I have high regard for the capitalist model of development, but its ramifications on a developing economy that does not have any economic foundations for development outweigh its benefits in a social context. I can attest to the fact that there is no pure capitalism in the world, and the model practiced in the developed world (for example, in the United States) is built on a socialist foundation driven through the State’s entrepreneurial risk-taking initiative to spur growth, development, and innovation. That’s the gospel truth, thus classifying the U.S. as a mixed economy and not a capitalist economy that combines the characteristics of capitalism and socialism.

Additionally, no economy in the world exists strictly with the undertones of socialism. Based on the narratives on economic policies, I can argue that none of the two economic models exist without the other. They are intertwined, and examples can be drawn on the Chinese modeled economy, which is classified as State-Sponsored capitalism, where the government invests in specific sectors of the economy to stimulate the growth of new or particular industries in the private sector. Their fundamental difference entirely lies in the scope of government intervention in the economy in which the United States model is centered on free-market policies that are private-sector-led development and the socialist-based model is driven through by the State through centralized economic planning on the means of production (Investopedia, 2019).

On the issue that the PDOIS model of government is based on absolute government control:

I think that is false. The PDOIS model of government is not based on absolute government control on the means of production. The model is built on encouraging an entrepreneurial state by investing in a particular economic sector rather than leaving everything in the private sector. I support that idea and totally against the arguments brought forth by authors Zysman, 1983, p19; Krasner, 1978, p.61) that investment and production decisions should be left entirely to the private sector. They justified their argument that the government pursued no conscious development strategy and that its primary economic role is to provide a supportive macroeconomic and regulatory climate for business. Their argument is counter-productive as the government as a regulator in the state can also be an investor in the economy to ensure that resources are not exploited based on profit maximization. But also utilized to benefit and advance the causes of the citizens’ economic well-being through the exploitation and development of new and expanding markets where the government can also participate. Even in the United States, identified as the bastion of capitalism, the government regulates specific industries in the economy.

My buy-in for the PDOISs Economic Model for Development

I will buy the proposed economic model of the PDOIS as it appeals to me most than that of the UDP. The model is not the best from an economic standpoint, but its unique nature can help The Gambia build a solid foundational base to support, exploit, manage, and control our sovereign national wealth. The PDOIS model has categorically stated the party’s position regarding their beliefs and ideologies of the government and economic development program and policies they will install or pursue if they are in government.

Conversely, the PDOIS’s economic model makes sense in leveraging our position as a developing and debt-driven nation as it intends to pursue a financial management system that is purely driven to support and develop the productive base of the economy to safeguard our independence and sovereignty. Also, the PDOIS model is both a supply-side and demand-driven process of economic development where investments are made to the productive sectors to create jobs, (a) where government’s role is to follow and support private-sector decisions about where to invest, what businesses will be profitable, and what products will sell, and (b) government’s role is to help identify investment opportunities that the private sector may either have overlooked or been reluctant to pursue, including openings in new markets, new products, and new industries. Along this line is what Hon. Halifa Sallah has been postulating since, in the 80s, to date on sovereign wealth and invests in the productive base of the Gambian economy. His efforts and that of his contemporaries were thwarted because we have compromised and conflicted pseudo-Gambians whose god is their belly and only interested to see that the ‘status quo’ of our development and governance remains unchanged to satisfy their excesses. Interesting to note, Gambians like to distort facts, and some have become master manipulators to stain the policies of the PDOIS to suit their self-interest and making our uneducated folks believe that a PDOIS government will be an end to economic prosperity, the forfeiture or forceful transfer of their wealth to the State, the rebirth of poverty and by extension citizens sharing homes and spouses.

My argument against the UDP’s Model of Capitalism

UDP model of capitalism is not fit for purpose in The Gambia. This is based on what I can deduce from the arguments brought forth by those in support of the UDP model against that of the PDOIS’s model in the quest of “Building The Gambia We Want.” The UDP model is a carbon copy of the US model of capitalism. The United States 243 years ago, laid the solid foundations of sustainable economic growth through a socialist platform and steadily incorporated only the salient features of capitalism that spur growth. In understanding the dynamics, it would be useful for students of history, economics, public policy, and researchers in particular or those interested to know the basis behind my argument to research extensively on US economic history. Therefore, the UDP model will deny the government of any active participation in the management, intervention, and coordination of economic activities. That is what the UDP model will promote, thus weakening our industrial base for any possible growth, expansion, development, and prosperity in the economy. The following are the substantive basis of my arguments against the UDP capitalist model of economic development:

  1. The model is based on stripping-off the government of any active role to own the means of production, direct and harness the productive base of the economy. I have my reservation on government owning all the means of production but support the government’s role to hold some if possible to fill the gap where the private sector is unwilling to invest in areas of research such as in robotic development.
  2. The model does not build a sustainable economic base for growth and development. It is an entrapment that promotes the perpetuation of foreign aid dependency, to transfer our independence, and sovereignty to the invisible hands of the West, and to continue wallowing in the shadows of abject poverty, less economic opportunities and reliance on handouts for budget support, and to survive with harmful consequences for growth.
  3. The model is a continuation of pursuing a dead-end tax based economy and follow the same tax policy with the developed economies rather than having a different tax policy as our primary objective is to achieve a high level of economic development, not merely economic stability.
  4. The model builds a parasitic nesting home that promotes and encourages endemic corruption and cronyism in our governance.

In conclusion, the emphasis on my argument in supporting the PDOISs model of economic development against any form of the capitalist model is premised on the State becoming an active entrepreneurial agent both as a creator and a facilitator to network with the private sector in partnership to harness the economic activities for the public. This is the only alternative to guarantee and safeguard our sovereign wealth, direct our affairs as an independent country, and decide our future based on our economic realities in pursuit of our national development programs. Therefore, I am among those who support that the state has an important role to play and should never take a back seat in economic activities. Those who against this view and argued that the State should have a limited role in the economy are taking a leaf from the playbook of economists whose position is faulty and would always want us to remain in the cycle of underdevelopment where poverty serves as a license to beg for handouts for budget support.

Written By Dr. Assan Jallow

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