U.S. and World Politics

How Low Can Capitalism Sink?

Look to Mandela’s ‘New’ South Africa

 By Ted Newcomen

Readers of Socialist Viewpoint may be curious to know how low the capitalist system can sink? Well, the answer is pretty far if you look at the webpage for the Emoya Experience in Bloemfontein, South Africa. Now remember, this is the new “democratic” South Africa, not the old apartheid regime. This is the young nation, which recently celebrated the life of Nelson Mandela and is held up as a model of peace, reconciliation, and economic development, which only the capitalist system can provide

The webpage promises a unique tourist experience for visitors, revealing what it is like to actually live in a Third World Shantytown. Enough. Let the priceless advertising blurb speak for itself:

“Millions of people are living in informal settlements across South Africa. These settlements consist of thousands of houses also referred to as Shacks, Shantys or Makhukhus. A Shanty usually consists of old corrugated iron sheets or any other waterproof material, which is constructed in such a way to form a small ‘house’ or shelter where they make a normal living. A paraffin lamp, candles, a battery operated radio, an outside toilet (also referred to as a long-drop) and a drum where they make fire for cooking is normally part of this lifestyle. Now you can experience staying in a Shanty within the safe environment of a private game reserve. This is the only Shanty Town in the world equipped with under-floor heating and wireless Internet access!’

“The Shanty Town is ideal for team building, braais [outdoor grills], fancy theme parties and an experience of a lifetime. Accommodates up to 52 guests. Our Shantys are completely safe and child friendly.

“This is an experience you will never forget!

“Shanty Town offers the following: under floor heating; donkey geysers [water heaters]; electrical geysers [electric heaters]; long-drop effect toilets; electricity; bathroom with shower; braai facilities upon request.

“Pricing (including value added tax) Sleeps four: R850; Breakfast optional: R110.”1

If they awarded Oscars for sick advertising then this must be a winner. There is something seriously disturbing (not to say downright evil) about an economic system that makes money out of play acting disenfranchised slum dwellers. What’s next? Slumdog sleepovers? Cookery lessons at Auschwitz? The Gulag Experience? Weekend slave camps in Georgia? At just over $82 a night these shacks may be something of a bargain for rich banksters on a leadership course or a fun party for the privileged children of the one percent. The advertisement doesn’t say if you have to pay a supplement to experience poverty, hunger, disease, and an optional dose of dysentery.

1 Emoya Luxury Hotel and Spa