The state, markets and “civil society”: Limiting struggles and limiting democracy
Today we are regaled by notions that the state “lacks” capacity to do things. This is then used as motivation for why the state should enter into “partnerships” – chiefly with business - to ensure that things actually happen. So whether it is about education, housing or public services the state must partner with the private sector to ensure houses, schools or toilets.
Economists – who dazzle us with figures - love this kind of argument. So they play with notions such as a fully-functional heath service would cost, say R100b – which the state cannot afford, or only partially afford. So the private sector will have to give the rest in order to make health services possible. But the private sector wants a return on its investment. So for every R100 pent it wants say R150 in return – which means that it, by definition, takes out more than it puts in. “Partnerships” is little more than code for more privatisation of public services and more outsourcing of what should be state functions.
Behind all the talk of the “state has no capacity” is the entrepreneur, the consultant and the mogul seeking new opportunities for making money.