According to Government, ‘uBuntu’ is Marxism Dressed in African Clothing


In a recent newspaper advertisement of government’s National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme, the health department wrote the following in support of its implementation:

“Currently due to rising costs of medical care, medical aid schemes have introduced several options which exclude a range of cover for the patients. Further more,many [sic] people exhaust their funds in the scheme as early as June and they are without cover for the rest of the year. In other words,they [sic] are covered for sa long as they are not sick.

Not anymore. NHI will give cover to all, in line with the Ubuntu principle: from each one according to his ability, to each one according to his needs.” (my emphasis)

For those unfamiliar with the highlighted portion in the above quote, it is a slogan popularized by the founder of modern socialism, Karl Marx, in 1875.

“From each according to his ability, to each according to their need” is based on the fallacy that in a communist society, such abundance of goods will be produced that everyone’s needs and material desires will be fulfilled. Everyone is merely expected to contribute as much as their own capacity allows, but will get in return whatever they need, freely.

Those who understand basic economics, of course, know this is nonsense. The post-scarcity society envisioned by socialists is impossible, and even if it were possible, it wouldn’t make a difference to human relations. Socialism’s, and apparently now uBuntu’s, essence is compulsion. Liberty’s essence is voluntaryism: Do as you please as long as you don’t violate the same right of others.

With all the talk of ‘African solutions for African problems’, and the developing ‘Afrocentric’ criticism of South Africans adopting ‘foreign’ ideas and narratives now needing to be ‘decolonized’, the health department’s statement above is particularly amusing. We have long known that these same critics of so-called ‘Western’ ideas, who to no end proclaim that individual liberty and economic freedom are inherently incompatible with the ‘African context’ and the ‘African philosophy’ of uBuntu, are merely socialists who think their disastrous ideology will work in Africa.

Karl Marx was born in Germany and died in Britain, having lived his entire life in the West. His ideological influences and predecessors were all non-African. Now that uBuntu has been confirmed to merely be Marxism dressed in localized African nationalist rhetoric, surely the next step is to also bin it in the battle of ideas?

To the extent that its proponents want it infused with public policy, all the various conceptions of uBuntu are fiercely opposed to the notion of a society based on voluntaryism, peaceful cooperation, and liberty. As a matter of governance, it should be rejected.

National Health Insurance will be unaffordable and if tried, will seriously hurt our fledgling economy. The quality of South African healthcare will need to be compromised across the board, for no reason other than to satisfy the ideological desires of Aaron Motsoaledi and the ruling party. Going ahead with this disastrous scheme simply because uBuntu apparently requires it is suicidal.

Those who seek to practice uBuntu should do so within the comfort of their own homes and communities, and leave those of us truly committed to a way of life founded on interconnectedness, voluntary community, peace, and freedom, alone.