Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Title

Western Political Science Association Annual Meeting 2012

Publication Date



Liberal democratic theory has not adequately addressed the tension between democracy and capitalism and this can be seen most clearly when trying to develop a political theory of taxation. Liberal democratic and public finance experts on taxation have focused on principles of justice and fairness. The imposition of specific kinds of taxes on Africans well after the beginning of colonialism in South Africa will help shed light on the internal challenges to liberalism that such a principled approach to taxation reveals. Through an extended exegesis on colonial tax policy, I will show how a faith in civilization, a racialized belief in the educative value of wage work, and pure economic interest co-mingle in the liberal principled approach to taxes.