"Basically I was invited here to fill in a bit of the picture about South Africa with regard to all that is happening with the Truth and Reconciliation Committee of which I am chairperson.
Just take as just a small example, they would say that the market has something to do with supply and demand but many western countries overproduce -- they overproduce agricultural goods -- and because they say it's going to press the price of whatever commodity, they dump food. When there are millions starving, there must be something fundamentally wrong. It can't be ethically right to say we want our prices stabilized at the expense of people and we will always, I think, come back somewhere because this is a moral universe.
I don't want to make a sort of blanket condemnation of people. People get rich, other people get poor. And again I must say that there must be something fundamentally wrong somewhere if by just speculating, millions are made. No work has been done. There has not been any exchange of good. It's just money that seems to come out of the air, the ether, and equally quickly these banks suddenly collapse where people made millions of paper money on the stock exchange without a corresponding increase in anything that is measurable.
And they say somebody becomes rich because somebody else becomes poor. Now I don't want to be too cynical, because I think that there are people who are aware that they have a responsibility and don't just make heaps and heaps of money. But the fact of the matter is that when you say what is most important is profits and not people, then you can be quite sure, whatever your explanation, someone like Archbishop Tutu is going to come along and be critical of that situation.
When we were struggling against apartheid, we were looking for non-violent strategies and one of the most effective was calling for disinvestment, calling for sanctions, and I was one of the spokespersons on behalf of it, and that is why I was vilified at home and in other places in other parts of the world for being Mr. Sanctions. Now that we have achieved our goal, which is the destruction of apartheid and getting our country to become a more normal society, we need investment. We need our economy to grow because we are faced with a horrendous legacy left behind by apartheid. So now I am quite happy to go around the world and say we asked you to assist us, by disinvesting, by sanctions we have succeeded through your help, thank you very much for that help, now help us to become the scintillating success that we should become. Invest, and now I would like to be maybe known as, Mr. Investment.
(laughs) It just shows that there isn't a great deal in the high-minded talk that some of these free marketers make out that they really are espousing. Because on the whole, many of them do in fact want to exploit people. They do want to go to those parts of the world where people are paid what are really insulting wages. That is to say there are people who need less than other people are and, yes, we have to say we will to be accepted for who we are. We struggled not just for political freedom in South Africa. We struggled so that we could put in place a dispensation that had higher moral values. That dispensation said that people do actually matter more than things, more than profits. And we hope that we will pursue [the ideas of] the more truly high minded people -- to say that there are better profits in an honest transaction.
And what you will find there is greater stability in a situation where human rights are respected as we're trying to do in South Africa. But in a situation where people are still treated like dirt, that stability that you seem to have is only illusory. Because one day those people are going to be involved in an uprising.
The dilemma I suppose that sometimes you find that you have almost a kind of schizophrenia. There's one part of you that wants to do this and there's another part that wants to something because it's supposed to be pragmatic. Fortunately, there are those in South Africa who keep saying to the government "remember why the world supported your struggle, was largely because you held the moral high ground." And Mandela you are held up in the world as an icon, an icon of goodness, of magnanimity. People see you not so much as a politician, but as someone who has espoused high moral, ethical values. Please don't erode that moral capital. And there are people in our country when you look at, say, sales of arms to various countries. There are people who raise their voices very sharply when they think that the standards the government claims to uphold have been just ignored. That there are people who raise their voices. All of us are aware that there are ambivalencies -- that life is a great deal more complex and you can't just provide simplistic answers.
I would say that we mustn't be pessimistic and give up. I hold to the view that this is a moral universe, goodness matters as it did forever, in the past it will continue to do so. Truth matters. Corruption matters. I mean you have seen we have seen why some of the financial institutions in Thailand, Indonesia have gone under. It's been basically, ultimately that they have flouted ethical rules. Not so much just financial rules it has been ethical rules, and that I have no qualms myself, I have no deep anxiety that we are suddenly going to become an amoral society, world society because of globalization.
No corporate chief will say to you that they are ready to encourage the violation of human rights. Why? Because they are concerned that they should not have the disapproval of people.
I think the fact that the world can admire someone like Nelson Mandela, but even more surprisingly, a Mother Theresa who had no world power, if anything she had the opposite. And yet the world admired her. A Princess Di, why was this outpouring of money, in part it was because she had been a caring person, she touched people with AIDS, she went and struggled against landmines, but the world recognizes goodness. Hankers after goodness. And excoriates the opposite. That you might be the most powerful person, economically, but you are not necessarily the most admired.
And I would say that there is nostalgia in all of us for something we probably had instilled in us that we are made for something different, we are really creatures of the transcendent. Goodness, love, compassion, gentleness are not just things that are for sissy’s. They are things that the world is ultimately is longing for. And that is why young people can go out as Peace Corps. Young people who needn't do so, going to work in outlandish places, because they do believe in goodness, they do believe that it is possible to rid the world of scourges like poverty, like war. They dream dreams. It would be an awful world where dreams no longer mattered. Where Beethoven didn't matter, you would only worry how much you would get for it.
We will be horribly, horribly impoverished if there were no standards, no codes that it was the law of the jungle operating, eat or be eaten, the survival of the fittest, that’s not the kind of world most of us want to see our world develop into, evolve into. And so, people are called to account. That is what I tried to say that I don't have a fundamental anxiety, I know, I mean, that ultimately goodness is going to prevail. That is what we said when, you know, we were fighting against apartheid. That, yeah the apartheid government seemed to have all of the power-- military, security force power and we didn't have very much else than being able to call on the world to assist us. But we said even then, at the height of apartheid's most horrendous repression, we're going to win; we’re going to win because goodness is stronger than it's opposite. And therefor the corporate world for it's own sake, must be seen to be on the side of goodness. On the side of the values most of us strive after.
It’s going to happen that ultimately, the oil companies there, for instance, will see that it's far, far better to be on the side of the people, to be on the side of justice, to be on the side of freedom, and not kowtow to the powerful. Who are powerful only for a moment and then they become the flotsam and jetsam of history."