The battle of ideas

Writing in his seminal work, The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money, 1936,  John Maynard Keynes, observed that “The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed, the world is ruled by little else.

In the continuing debate about how to end poverty and build prosperity in South Africa, ideologues in the ruling party have put forward powerfully seductive, often conflicting and ultimately destructive economic ideas. These ideas have been thrust into the public arena, central planning, master plans, the current favourite of Trade Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel, and the developmental state, to name but a few…and the stagnant economy should be proof of these ideas toxicity to the economy, but, instead, often we just see the ANC lean on its hold of the levers of state power to double down.

The battle of ideas is a phrase that will long be associated with the Institute of Race Relations under the leadership of Frans Cronje, who announced his retirement as CEO of the Institute at the end of 2021 recently.
Michael Avery sat down with Cronje to reflect on his tenure and what the ANC’s National Democratic Revolution means for the chances of economic reform under President Ramaphosa.