THANK you, Britt Baatjes, for your interesting article, "Kinder world indeed possible" October 24). You questioned "the neo-liberal capitalism which has not, does not and never will serve the poor, working class and increasingly, the middle class". I also like your mother's request to "provide a solution".
You asked, "Where is our humanity, our sense of the other"? You also stated that "a few examples of hopes will not change the world" and "they have to be amplified to bring a new world order into being".
As I see that you work as researcher at Fort Hare University, what do you think might be this institution's role in defining a "new world order"? It would seem the interesting column from Piet Naude (of NMMU) about the meaning of excellence ("What does excellence mean?", October 8) that he is still squarely behind the Washington "consensus" (that imposed global market competition as the economic driver) when he mentioned that "this competitive notion of excellence is important" and "this is also the basic assumption of a capitalistic or free market economy and this is what drives economic growth".
Is that the NMMU and Fort Hare's position?
A growing number of people now question "growth" as the main economic driver as it does not trickle down easily to people, and therefore does not always decrease poverty and unemployment, and often increases inequality. Besides, other indicators than GDP better measure people's development.
Very recently Prof Praveen Jha came to talk about the increasingly damaging effects of the "corporate global food regime" which is a typical offshoot of market competition. Hence why would we continue endorsing a paradigm that does not help humanity and, besides, destroys the environment?
What is the Eastern Cape universities' position in this regard? Do they still teach young students and future leaders antiquated, neo-liberal and damaging concepts that maintain a high carbon development and unethical competition?
Besides, much research over the years (including the latest IPCC report) tells us indisputably that "there is no alternative than to develop a low carbon future". Why would one therefore like to maintain the high carbon paradigm?
Besides, it would seem the 2008 economic crisis might be a sign of its structural flaws and therefore its upcoming expiry date. It is therefore urgent to prepare a transition to a new paradigm that takes care of the environment and all its inhabitants.
Can we imagine, for example, a local community which wants to apply low carbon and sustainable principles? Hence it would need enormous support to respond to its own needs by using local resources.
This would therefore require much research and testing of ways adequately to produce own water from harvesting, catching solar energy for electricity, processing (and resolving sanitation issues at the same time) toilet and other waste to produce cooking bio gas, and creating own livelihoods through the incredible potential of local economy. That would be a real community engagement, wouldn't it?
Universities have a huge responsibility regarding this economic pattern. They keep young minds and future leaders bogged down in a damaging paradigm or they open their students' mind towards a sustainable, low carbon paradigm which offers incredible opportunities and therefore an interesting future.
A huge responsibility, I would say.
Could a local economy "bring a new world order into being"?
PL Lemercier, Port Elizabeth