that a man is not a thing and is not
to be placed at the mercy of things.
We know that air and water belong
to all mankind and not merely to
industrialists. We know that a baby
does not come into the world
merely to be the instrument of
someone else’s profit. We know
that democracy does not mean the
coercion of all into a deadly—and,
finally, wicked—mediocrity but the
liberty for all to aspire to the best
that is in him, or that has ever been.
– James Baldwin An Open Letter to My Sister Angela Y. Davis
Let me start off with a quote I made up. “It takes more imagination to look at the past than it does to contemplate the future.”
11% of the world’s population is without access to clean water supply. That is about 790 million people. With water being an essential ingredient for living, I wonder how this statistic is still recurrent, hasn’t corrected itself. I mean, within four weeks every of those 790 million souls should be dead, no? Or do they die out and more people take their place?
About 690 million people suffer from hunger globally. A large percentage of that number are children below 16. It is said that there is more than enough food produced to feed everyone in the world but the problem is distribution. Again I wonder, why is this number recurrent, food gives life, hungry people should have died out. Or do they? And more take their place.
About 100 million people worldwide are homeless (2005 data) About 1.6 billion live in inadequate shelters (this number is a gross understatement). This means they do not sleep well, are exposed to diseases and have a higher chance of getting killed. This number is not going down, it is on the rise. In places like the United States and the United Kingdom, death due to homelessness has risen by an average of 23%. Why has it not reduced since some die out? Do more people come to take their place?
There are about 775 million people who cannot read or write. Easy fodder for misinformation. The number of literate, but ignorant people worldwide is probably more than 5 times that number. All at the mercy of demagogues masquerading as politicians, dictators or extremists. Despite the lackluster efforts of donors, corporate social responsibility and the United Nations, there has not been any remarkable improvement. Some die, more take their place.
Women make up about 70% of the world’s poor, this statistic is of course, conservatively placed. They are prone to suffer more abuse, more illnesses and a lot of other things specifically because of how they are gendered. Contrary to popular belief, things are not getting better.
More than two-thirds of the world’s population live in poverty. They live under $5 dollars daily. Millions die from treatable diseases, more take their place. In short, the world is a shitty place to live in right now. But it wasn’t always like this. What happened?
It is the job of society to take care of its constituents, not eat them. Our world gobbles people up at an alarming pace. The sophisticated 21st century is governed by laws of survival of the
fittest richest. This is baffling. The irony of our present society is we believe that all humans are born equal. All humans must be fairly treated, everyone must be treated with dignity and no one person is above another. Then we proceed to throw everything we have affirmed out the window because of private profit.
Do you know how wrong it is that people buy water? The world is two-thirds water, people not being able to afford it—afford in essence, their lives—is just the craziest thing. We have even made breathable air a commodity.
Nobody should be too poor to eat, to drink water, to be treated for curable illness, to be treated with every dignity a human deserves. Capitalism cannot do it for us.
What do we do? Reject capitalism. Let’s start talking about socialism!
But your billionaires and economists will tell you that capitalism is the best. That “there is no alternative” – Margaret Thatcher. “The others only work in theory.” It’s interesting how they know that. When they have not judiciously tested anything. People don’t understand because capitalism does not allow for imaginative thinking. It takes more imagination and risk to put humans in flight and even more to put your “hard-earned” money in volatile, high-yield stocks than it does to imagine and build a society that is committed to upholding human dignity. They will make half-assed references to communist countries and how they failed as a reason why all socialism doesn’t work or works best in theory.
Firstly, there are many forms of socialism. Libertarian socialism, revolutionary socialism, democratic socialism, communism, anarchism, anarcho-communism, etc. Lots of debatable options to choose from. The one often alluded to, the type that has been practiced by Russia and China is socialism of the authoritarian kind, some even argue that they essentially ran a capitalist structure. The state just simply replaced the private entrepreneur as the taker of profits and tried to redistribute the wealth, the success of that is left open for posterity to judge. But…you must take into cognizance that socialism was demonized and frustrated by capitalist powers. Just for the preservation of itself, capitalism sponsored wars and upheld murderous dictators. Still, China may be the only place to have actually reduced poverty by a wide margin among a large number of people in the whole world.
And the idea of any form of socialism working only in theory is a nonsense argument. I am Igbo and I don’t know many things about my tribal history, but I know that my great-grandfather did not buy water to drink. His grandchild spends a lot weekly on that.
The early Christians exemplified the socialist spirit even in a hostile capitalist empire.
Humans have shown throughout history that they can live together in communes that aren’t on the highway to self-destruction.
Capitalism works best, if at all, in theory. We have all seen this for ourselves. Things are progressively getting worse.
In case you didn’t know.
Exploitation is the foundation of large scale capitalism. Capitalism is the cause of wars, poverty, people dying of treatable diseases, world hunger, pollution and colonialism. The highest leading cause of death in these times is profit.
Capitalism is a historically dishonest ideology. It assumes that everyone came in on a level playing field, which is so not true. It conveniently sweeps away slavery, colonialism and and all its attendant advantages to the colonizer, exploitative economic policies (e.g, austerity measures) that are forced on countries that can’t say no. Contrary to popular belief, capitalism does not drive innovation nor should it reward it, it stunts human potential except in rich people’s lives. You cannot think outside the box if you are hungry. Never mind those rags to riches stories. And why would you even want to be rewarded for your innovation by depriving another human being the ability to live with dignity?
Capitalists say, humans are naturally lazy, socialism will encourage laziness and
Also, humans are naturally competitive, socialism cannot just work because it stifles the human spirit. It is anti-human.
Pick a side!
Those two statements don’t just add up.
Is it anti-human to guarantee that nobody is hungry?
A high level American CEO earns about 350 times more money than the least employee. Capitalism says it is perfectly normal, it is what they are worth. As if this worth really has anything to do with what they actually do. The rich guy spends the half of the day in air-conditioned board meetings, perfecting the fine art of corporate robbery and spends the other half being an asshole. The poor one may be having some health issues that he does not know about because going to a doctor is way above his
worth means, and is doing back breaking labour to support children that are way above his worth means. The only difference between these two is where and to whom (old white family money vs. unskilled labourer parents) they were born, or a very rare handout from the establishment. A sop thrown to keep the enslaved hopeful. The rich dude is worth a coupla uni degrees and fraternity connections. That’s mostly all.
Financial compensation is not and will never be a good enough incentive for production. Statistics already confirm this. Human experiences confirm this. The salaries of most working class people are sub par. This means that the money they make cannot adequately fulfil the basic needs of a human. People are imprisoned by a paycheck because to leave it means their demise. That is wage slavery. So what happens to those waiting needs? Do people die or manage without them? In some cases maybe. But in places like the United States, the capitalist manufactures credit—the promise of money made out of thin air—student loans, mortgage loans, credit cards, etc. And guess what? You guessed right, another clever trick of the capitalist. People run into debt and that runs the rest of their lives.
Capitalism is anti-human, and in the real sense is anti-democratic. The 1% use their money to influence the choice of governments and government policies so that their power is not really threatened. During the covid-19 crises, the world’s billionaires gained $10.2 trillion. Many have died. Many cannot feed, governments are struggling but look at these billionaires.
Capitalism does not encourage freedom of choice, it extirpates it. Only rich people have unfettered freedom of choice. For the rest of us, we are restricted in our choices by how much we have.
The term “middle-class” is a capitalist invention for people it doesn’t fiercely exploit—they aren’t hungry, thirsty, (un/under)employed or homeless—to stroke their egos. And keep the oppressed class hopefully that their situation will improve, which of course doesn’t happen.
Capitalism keeps the middle-class beholden to it. It manufactures a “need”—specifically eyeing their pocket—that they probably don’t need, makes them spend time and effort for it and rewards them, or their ego rather for picking between a few equally useless options of things they really don’t need in the first place. And their cycle of enslavement starts over. That is the story of modern corporate advertising.
There can never be any form of equality in a capitalist system. The structure of financial exploitation is always written into the lines of inequality: Black Africa will continue to be poor in relation to the rest of the world and women in general will never be as financially secure as men under a capitalist system. In truth, capitalism does not discriminate. But it helps reinforce social injustice by profiting off unjust systems. Imagine the US capitalist machinery did not exploit Latin America. Imagine France did not exploit francophone Africa.
There is no efficiency with capitalism. The law of demand and supply is not infallible. People die. The Great Depression and the stock market crash of 2008 have proven this as a fact.
Capitalism destroys the environment and this is a big deal. Burning fossil fuels, mining, deforestation and poaching of endangered species are standard practices of the capitalist. In another few centuries, the earth might be unsuitable for human living. For what? For profit. And genuine action is right now being frustrated by capitalists.
Capitalism will cause more poverty and death and denigration of human dignity. Don’t pay the United States or the EU or the UN any mind when they talk about eradicating poverty and world hunger, it will never happen. The sustainable development goals will not work as long as we run a capitalist society (the poverty reduction lie).
Capitalism cannot solve the problems of the world, it is the cause (financial inequality 101).
And of course, capitalists have come out to say that the solution is to open up markets globally. Free trade zones and other magical things. To make things clear, the free market talk is a lie from the pit of hell. The main goal is minimal to zero government interference. So capitalists can run riot without any checks (free trade and the death of democracy).
We cannot entrust the lives, dignities and futures of billions of people to the
free market whims of greedy white men.
Global GDP growth between 1999 and 2008, the poorest 60% of humanity received only 5% of it. The richest 40%, by contrast, received the rest – 95%.
Here’s an interesting number crunching exercise.
The lowest benchmark for poverty is $5 a day. Some put it at $10.
Some economists did research and found that there is actually an amount of money that will make you happy. A happy salary. It’s about $95,000 annually. To take care of all your needs and wants. Let’s approximate it to $100,000.
For the world’s poorest to be able to live on $5 daily within our current capitalist economy, we would need to increase global GDP by 175 times. Even removing natural disasters, famine, inflation and every single thing that can cause a slight economic hiccup. A growth of ×175 is an impossible feat, we’ll need more than two brand new earths for that.
And the average income will be $1.3 million yearly, that is for the poorest to live on $5 a day. An impossible feat.
Nah, Capitalism needs to go.
What can be done now?
Very debatable suggestions.
– Abolish debts owed by poor countries.
– Close down the tax havens,
– Install a global minimum wage, that everybody everywhere can live on. Must be enforced by a vibrant worker body, not the UN please.
– Put an end to the structural adjustment programs that allow rich countries to control the fates of poor countries.
– Repatriate the stolen wealth from slave trade and colonialism.
– A total overhaul of capitalism. It is a naïve and greedy system that assumes everyone can compete. Poverty is mostly historical and self-perpetuating. Human beings have existed for over 200,000 years, capitalism has only existed for 500 years and has failed spectacularly. Socialism is as old as humanity, it works. There’s a whole ass debate on the type of socialism we can adopt and how it should be adopted. These are the kinds of conversations we should begin with ourselves if we want a future better than what the white man’s capitalism has given us. A world where nobody dies because of hunger, thirst, sickness or lack of money is possible. It begins with you and me.
Power to the people ✊🏾
Moses Chukwuemeka Chimeremeze lives and teaches teens in Lagos, Nigeria which he detests. He writes uncomfortable social commentary, poems he does not understand and is a believer in nothing but eloquent tragedies. He is an obsessive [deluded] recluse who was married to Jorja Smith (now on a break). He always, always got the blues.