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September 1, 2020

Benefiting the rich only

Opinion

September 1, 2020

Amidst the ravages of Covid-19 that has claimed more than 842, 014 lives across the world, a tiny minority of the super-rich of the globe continues to thrive.

The contagion seems to have destroyed the global economy and is likely to cause a staggering loss of at least $5.5 trillion in lost output over the next two years, greater than the annual output of Japan. It has impoverished millions of workers across the globe, hitting around 2.7 billion workers worldwide – around 81percent of the world’s 3.3 billion workforce. This has raised serious questions towards the working of this economic order, prompting many to demand its abolition.

The contagion has created unbearable conditions for working class people across the world, pushing many to the verge of starvation. The pauperization of the vast majority of humanity does not seem to have affected the oligarchs of the world who witnessed a phenomenal rise in their capital during the last week. According to a report by Bloomberg, it was the most lucrative week in history for some of the world’s 500 wealthiest people whose wealth grew by $209 billion during the week.

Capitalism always claims to be altruistic with its ideologues making absurd assertions that the system benefits all but in reality that is not the case. It seems to be a system which is ruthless even to its own adherents. This system clearly shows that the downfall of one capitalist power leads to the rise of another one. The history of this system is replete with instances where the destruction of one capitalist group led to the ascendancy of another.

Similarly, the devastation of one predatory imperialist state helped other greedy countries to thrive. Spain and Portugal were the first European states in modern times that chose the path of looting and plundering, playing havoc with the lives of the Incas, the Mayas and the Aztec. Portugal conquered Brazil while Spain subjugated large swathes of Central and South America. A decline in their power prompted other Western states to claim their pound of flesh. These states first looted the ships of these two imperial powers full of gold, silver and other precious metals. So, the waning power of Madrid and Lisbon gave way to the emergence of other European powers.

Finally, it was France and the UK that held sway over large swaths of the globe, pushing other European powers to the peripheries and occupying the main trade and commercial routes of the world. The two global wars dealt a severe blow to their hegemony, paving the way for the American military and economic might that is still ruling over the world. A relative weakness of the US in the aftermath of the Second World War helped Japan and South Korea flourish economically.

The US devoted a large amount towards defence, ignoring manufacturing. The opportunity seized by the two Asian states that came up with their own brands carving out a space for themselves in the fiercely competitive global market. The rise of China in manufacturing also coincided with the gradual decline of industries in North America and Europe.

This all flies in the face of the tall claims of the capitalist world that it benefits all. In reality, the system is not kind even to its own followers. So, if a system cannot benefit its own followers, how can it reward the poor who despise the very existence of this unjust economic order? They can clearly see that this system cannot provide a meagre five billion dollars to wipe out hunger from Africa where 60 million children go bed without food or $7 to $265 billion a year to end world hunger but it can allow the elites of the world to spend around $1800 billion on arms and defence. This system cannot help more than 250 million malnourished Africans but allowed one rich family of India to throw lavish wedding parties costing around S66 million.

This phenomenal addition to the wealth of the world’s plutocrats should prompt us to question whether this system can survive. How can this economic order continue to work if more than two billion people live one two to five dollar a day? Who can save this economic order from annihilation if the vast majority of humanity is bereft of basic necessities of life while the elites make millions of dollars trips to space? Many wonder if this system has any good news for the 734 million people across the world living in poverty, 159 million wretched souls living without shelter or 1.6 billion deprived of adequate shelter. Can this unjust system save the lives of 17 million people a year dying of infectious diseases or protect 2.3 million children who are decimated by diseases that can be battled by providing vaccines.

In the past human beings got decimated in large numbers because there was no defence against hunger, starvation and diseases. Famines would plague large swathes of the earth. Pestilences would devour state after state. Natural calamities would play havoc with the lives of millions. We created this system hoping it would put an end to hunger and starvation, wars and conflicts, poverty and pauperization; and above all the stark class differences that have created several worlds within a world.

If the West and the US can spend more than five trillion dollars on the ‘war on terror’, there is no reason to believe why a few hundred billion dollars cannot be spent in wiping out poverty that is plaguing various parts of the world. If millions of tons of food can be wasted in Western capitals, there is no legitimate reason for our failure to feed the hungry in parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America. If we can conquer seas, oceans, mountains and space why should we fail to control the monstrous poverty and starvation that is still haunting millions of souls?

Despite all development and scientific advancement, we are unable to address the basic needs of humankind. It is all because of this class-based system that is only benefiting the rich. This is a system that wages wars, serving the voracious greed of a few, turning the lives of billions of people into hell and preventing the mass majority of people from questioning its irrational, illogical and inhuman rules.

It is time we questioned the income inequality that this system generates. It is time we revolted against the murderous militarization that this global economic and political order imposes on state after state. It is time we accounted for this economic order failing to bring prosperity to each and every individual. It is time we criticised towards the working of this world order that only serves the interests of a few. If the system is not rectified, if it does not respond to the challenges that have shattered the very foundations of civilization then this system is doomed. The incredible accumulation of wealth is a recipe for disaster. Therefore, the sooner we abolish this system, the better it will be.

The writer is a freelance journalist.

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