Unemployment and "the gift" in the South African context
Unemployment is a major problem in South Africa that has the potential to erode the democratic future of this country. In general, the main economic approaches that deal with unemployment are informed by neo-liberal and neo-Marxist perspectives. The problem is that these perspectives are in a dialectical tension with each other and can increase conflict and unemployment. This dialectical tension is reflected in language that can be informed by the reductionist aspects of the ontologies perspectives. The purpose of this study is to inquire whether the deconstruction of Jacques Derrida can provide an alternative perspective for the dialectical tension present between neo-liberal and neo-Marxist approaches that are being used to address the problem of unemployment in the South African context. In this regard, the critique of the language of reductionist ontologies by deconstruction provides a means to move beyond the tension between neo-liberalism and neo-Marxism, because deconstruction uncovers the ambivalence of the language of both perspectives, but without constructing a new synthesis that may result in new reductions of reality. This reduction of reality is evident in the use of “growth momentum”, referred to by Rodrik (2008:3), as a suggestion of a neo-liberal solution to the problem of unemployment. Growth is a reference to natural processes that can become a means to hide the mechanical structure of the economic cycle, which again has the potential to restrict growth through extreme forms of inequality and greed. Neo-Marxist perspectives utilise references to “equality” and “government intervention” to deal with injustice. This can result in extreme forms of control that diminish human dignity. The role of deconstruction for the language of economic theory is illustrated by Jacques Derrida’s use of the word “Gift”. A gift is ambivalent because it contains a tension between self-interest and justice, which Jacques Derrida refers to as “hospitable narcissism”. It will be argued that this ambivalence is present in the language of the economic theory of John Maynard Keynes, which may provide important sustainable economic perspectives for dealing with unemployment in South Africa, thus providing a practical application of hospitable narcissism. In this regard, deconstruction is helpful to develop sensitivity to the language used and the ontologies that inform the language when addressing unemployment. The gift advances human dignity through responsible governance that is critical of 5 uncontrolled self-interest, greed and corruption. This happens through engagement with unemployed people – an act of accountability. In this regard, the study aims at researching the following goals: Firstly, it aims to argue that unemployment in general is perpetuated by the dialectical tension between neo-liberalism and neo-Marxism; secondly, the deconstruction of language provides a critical perspective on reality that opens new perspectives for discussing the possibility of sustainable economic language, with reference to the word “gift”; thirdly, an aspect of “the gift” is present in the economic theory of Keynes that may provide sustainable perspectives for unemployment in the South African context. In order to reach these goals, a praxis methodology is followed in which the practical reality of unemployment and the dialectical tension between neo-liberalism and neo-Marxism in South Africa are the points of departure. The implication is that the economic reality of unemployment and the political tension between neo-liberalism and neo-Marxism form the basis for further philosophical reflection. To do this, a deconstructive approach is followed as a means to explore the ontology of neo-liberalism and neo-Marxism. This is followed by a deconstructive reading of the economic theory that John Maynard Keynes follows in order to provide alternative perspectives for the problem of unemployment in South Africa. The following resources were consulted in the research: Library catalogue of the North-West University, research articles through the database of Ebsco-host, statistics of unemployment from Statistics South Africa, and newspaper articles. This mini-dissertation is presented in the form of an article, in accordance with rule A.7.2.5 of the “General Academic Rules” of the North-West University. The article will be presented for publication in the journal Acta Academica, at a later stage. In this regard, the guidelines for publication of this journal are included in the appendix. The article contains the following subdivisions: 1. Introduction 2. Neo-liberalism and neo-Marxism: Contemporary research of unemployment in South Africa 3. Deconstruction and “the gift” 4. John Maynard Keynes and unemployment 5. “The gift” and unemployment in the South African context 6. Conclusion In the next section, the research article is presented with a bibliography and a summary of the article in English and Afrikaans, in accordance with the prescriptions of Acta Academica. In the final sections of the document some general conclusions, the limitations of the study and recommendations for further research, are presented. This is followed by the appendix with prescriptions for research articles submitted to Acta Academica.
- Humanities