Entrepreneurship is a myth

by Nov 13, 2013Magazine

Dear Amandla!

One can’t help but be sickened by the overuse of the term ‘Entrepreneurship’ among our rather dull chattering classes. If the government, opposition party, analysts, economists and talking heads are to be believed, the solutions to our sluggish growth and unemployment woes can be found in the holy twosome of foreign direct investment and fostering a culture of ‘entrepreneurship’. This entrepreneurship cult is everywhere from DASO campaigning for ‘entrepreneurship’ classes in our nation’s failing schools, to the rebranding of the role of the artist to ‘creative entrepreneur’ to activism being redefined as ‘social entrepreneurship’. Every major youth leadership conference has the likes of the odious Richard Branson lecturing our youth on how entrepreneurs are a new vanguard of social change.

But what does entrepreneurship actually mean? Well as far as I’m concerned it’s little more than an insidious mask for justifying the state doing nothing to combat our unemployment crisis and in particular our youth unemployment crisis. Instead of seriously investing in vital job-creating public works programs on a mass scale or really doing anything, they wish to create conditions which foster entrepreneurship which will foster the growth needed to save us all.

Instead entrepreneurship is code for ‘pulling yourself up by your bootstraps’, mythologizing the heroic job-creating capitalist who brings about real change as opposed to inefficient government official destroying value by trying to help the poor through traditional Keynesian interventions. But in the case of our townships this cult of the entrepreneur valorizes the survivalist strategies or ‘the hustle’ employed by millions to basically make ends meet as some sort of heroic culture of entrepreneurship, at the same time maintaining an economy which renders millions surplus to the requirements of capital.

Anyway, should everyone want to take the risks and want to become an entrepreneur the answer is of course no. Most people don’t particularly want to market themselves in the way we are told we need to or start their own business or anything like. I for one don’t think one’s highest aspiration should be to get filthy rich by starting my own business and then make some token philanthropic gestures and strut around like I’m Bono.

In the end government has neglected its responsibility to the unemployed and instead disguised its own inaction under the cover of promoting entrepreneurship. Which means fostering conditions for the further growth of big capital and undermining worker’s rights to ‘enable growth’. The cult of entrepreneurship is little more than a direct attack on the working class.

Igshaan, Athlone

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