Martin van Staden

Libertarian Jurisprudence & Free Market Policy

South Africa’s Constitution Does Not Envision Socialism, But Freedom

Advocates of increased government meddling in private and commercial affairs often point to the South African Constitution as a justification for the politicization of everything. But this is an incorrect way to read our highest law, which at its core guarantees freedom of choice in all respects.

Every New Year’s Eve, many citizens in the former Soviet Union gather to watch the 1976 Russian romantic comedy, The Irony of Fate.

The plot of the movie is that the protagonist has drunkenly taken a flight from Moscow to Leningrad (today Saint Petersburg). In Leningrad, while thinking he was still in Moscow, he tells a taxi driver to take him to the apartment building he lives in. As it happens, Leningrad had a street with the same name, and the apartment building there was in all material respects identical, outside and inside, to the one in which the protagonist lives in Moscow. He proceeds to fall asleep in the apartment he thinks is his (his key even works for the lock), later to be violently awoken by the real female occupant of the apartment. Romantic comedy ensues.

As the “City Beautiful” channel on YouTube explains, this comedic setup was plausible within the context of Soviet city planning. The Soviet government allowed very little creativity and choice in how residences could look. Housing blocks had to appear generally uniform, all in the name of the State’s ideology of enforced equality and socialism. The notion of private property rights was very limited.

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