91 of 105 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 1998
The publisher's representative is correct is asserting that William's main objective is to defend capitalism against the charge that "apartheid is a result of capitalism". Unfortunately, the remainder of the commentary on William's book is both dishonest and scurrilous. The commentator employs many of the classic intellectual defenses used by members of left when confronted with the sad and sorry result of over 100 years of collectivist thought and action. The "perfectly competitive market" straw man, the "state capitalism" chimera, the ever useful "fascist" label for right-wing Socialists, and the spurious claim that government is the only avenue for political and economic advancement for oppressed groups are disingenuous weapons in the arsenal of a Collectivist movement forced to confront the real-world results of their theorizing i.e. Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Stalin's Russia, Mao's China, Pol Pot's Cambodia, and Mengitsu's Ethiopia.
Williams does not take liberties in defining capitalism and socialism. He uses standards defined in most economic textbooks i.e. the greater the amount of governmental interference in an economy, the more socialist the economy. His ideas are not preconceived, nor does he attempt to downplay the impact of a vicious and immoral racist society on the perpetrators and victims. He does argue persuasively that apartheid without extensive government controls in the economic and political life of South Africa is untenable. Apartheid existed because a Socialist economy allowed the instigators to diffuse the costs of racism among the general population, white, black, and colored. In an open market without government subsidies and supports, racist employers are forced to absorb the risks and costs associated with their preferences (higher wages paid to eligible workers, fewer potential clients, and a loss of information from market distortions). In South Africa a large majority of the Boer population was able to enjoy exercising their racist proclivities as a result of extensive subsidies from a Socialist state. The commentator bemoans the institutional controls erected by the apartheid regime, including closed national and international markets, disenfranchisement, and the failure to adequately develop human capital. The publisher's representative will find absolutely nothing in the writings of Williams, Freidman, Sowell, Becker, Hayek, or Von Mises supporting the type of regime created by the Boers in South Africa.
There is no such animal as State Capitalism. It is an invention of socialists who are unable to explain why their ideas, wherever applied, result in totalitarianism. Perfectly competitive markets have never existed. Most young economic students learn this fact early in their careers. Fascism, when used by leftists to describe odious governments, is an empty epithet. All so-called fascist states have economic systems that are indistinguishable from their left-wing variants.
10 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 2005
"This book shows absolutely no understanding of South Africa's history and economic institutions. In particular, Williams conveniently ignores the role capitalists played in constructing the racist institutions in South Africa in his attempt to portray apartheid as anti-capitalist. One of the most biased interpretations of South African history in existence (rivaled only by the work of W. H. Hutt). Recommended only for conservatives who don't want their view of reality cluttered with actual facts."
You're damn right that early "capitalists" supported the apartheid regime, but only because they didn't want black people to have the economic freedom that the whites did. It's called an unequal distribution of capitalism. The whites had capitalism in South Africa, whereas the blacks had socialism. You forget that capitalism is an economic system, not a type of person (unless they believe in that system). The apartheid regime was socialist and against capitalism, because it denied blacks the right to own property and intervened in order to help out special interests. It's kind of like how many regulations ultimately help big businesses and corporations by squashing mom and pop stores.