Social Upheaval of the Times: A New Perspective

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The span of time since the unraveling of socialism a little over twenty years ago has given us, contemporary observers, the opportunity to look at this event with unprecedented depth and a bigger perspective. Indeed, that span has uncovered and brought back from obscurity the real factors that contributed to the collapse of this ideology, very much like how history is vindicated well after it has unfolded. What is obvious to us today surely was not clear for that age’s participants and observers, thus, a better say on what truly happened, from the personalities who betrayed socialism to the unwelcome external elements that intervened, is aching to be told especially in this time of mass protests in Europe and privacy scandals plaguing America.

Almost exactly twenty years before the financial blunder of the West, Eastern Europe was undergoing a major political transformation; the masses are confronted with a choice that would dictate how their lives will be from then on: to keep under socialism or to succumb to the allure of the supposedly more democratic ways of their Western neighbors. The reverse is true today: Americans are increasingly becoming aware but less patient with how they should be governed, from how taxpayer money should be used in times of crisis to how their private lives are eroded by an increasingly paranoid government. Without realizing it, people are citing elements of socialism to serve as antidote (Occupy Movement) to the woes of contemporary life in ‘the land of the free.’ In Europe, calls for a loosening of the highly bureaucratic and elitist European Union is needless to say, gaining more ground as state after state succumb to strings-attached-ridden bailouts and the claws of austerity measures eating at people’s welfare and ultimately, their existence.

How can you preach ‘democracy’ when you treat your citizens with distrust, as with the recent Manning-Assange-Snowden expose reveal? In fact, even America’s allies can’t escape this inexorable surveillance menace. How can you preach ‘more integration’ for the so-called European Union if you continue to keep out the assignment of management of the continent beyond the approval of citizens? Such trappings were the wedge of classic anti-socialist/communist rhetoric during the Cold War. Can we look at who’s speaking now? Indeed we can, with the help of what others call “the ordeal of careful scrutiny.”

With Age Comes Greater Understanding: The Truth behind Socialism’s Collapse in the 1980s

The typical Western triumphalist thinking has all the success-over-socialism-the-enemy covered in the Cold War dialogue, where claims rest mostly in the belief that socialism is doomed from the beginning, as was the case with the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. In the specific case of the dissolution of the USSR, there are six theories that try to ‘explain’ why socialism failed, including:

  • flaws of socialism
  • popular opposition
  • external factors
  • bureaucratic counter-revolution
  • lack of democracy and over-centralization, and
  • the Gorbachev factor

The first theory argues that socialism was doomed from the start because it had an inherent anti-human nature flaw. It is misguided thought because it requires a predisposition that socialism in the USSR should’ve failed before even more pressing challenges, such as collectivization or the Nazi invasion, had gripped the relatively young socialist state.

The second theory subscribes to the idea that popular opposition brought down socialism in the Soviet Union and even Eastern Europe. However, subscribers to this theory fail to explain the fact that a real opposition to Gorbachev did not turn out in the beginning of his reforms. To begin with, mass discontent did not appear during Gorbachev’s early years as General Secretary. Moreover, surveys showed that people were actually satisfied with their lives and the system.

While others falsely believed that, some were comfortable with blaming external factors as behind the collapse of socialism in the Soviet Union. Proponents of this theory believe in the pressure that Reagan put on the reforming Soviet system, especially on military terms. On the contrary, despite rhetorical musings, there is no evidence of such triumphalism, especially on the buildup of arms that was supposed to ‘bankrupt’ the Soviets into spending. In fact, archives show that the American military buildup was not reciprocated by the armed forces of the Soviet Union. Proponents of this theory fail to cite the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan and the plan of Gorbachev to end conscription in the military as well as the eventual reduction of the armed forces.

The fourth theory promote the belief that as Gorbachev’s reforms unleashed forces beyond the control of the state, slow-moving leaders were left with no choice but to ride the waves of a fast-emerging market economy by privatizing state assets for their own wealth. Although some in the elite saw an opportunity in the unraveling of the centralized economy, it was motivated by their interest in hanging on to power, rather than subscribing to the return of capitalism.

The fifth theory traces the root of the Soviet collapse to the inability of the state to “democraticize”, at least in the Western sense of the word. However, over time, the meaning of democracy changes. In Roger Keeran’s and Thomas Kenny’s thesis, neither capitalism nor liberalism has an exclusive claim to democracy. To be sure, democracy came to the United States in gradual terms, and was constantly improved as rights became more pervasive and expanded. In fact, ‘popular participation’ was built-in in the Soviet political and decision-making system. Indeed, the spread of power was even more dispersed than in a Western democracy. As for over-centralization, scholars miss the fact that the USSR was the first socialist country to embark on such economic path; there is no guarantee the plan will work, but nevertheless it produced a system that will achieve the goals of socialism, including free education, housing, guaranteed jobs, zero-inflation and others.

The sixth theory also has the trappings of an incomplete thesis: that Gorbachev was the man to blame, especially because of his abandonment of traditional communism. There is no denying that Gorbachev’s policies unleashed wanton forces beyond his control. However, few recall that his earlier policies where a mirror of Andropov’s reforms. At best, this theory fails to fully convince, especially since Gorbachev, according to Keeran and Kenny, “was both a legatee of a certain tradition and the product of his times and not just a lone factor making history.”

Rebuffing Western Though on the Collapse: Other Areas of Discussion

Even after the end of the First World War, it is undeniable that the Soviet people underwent a major upheaval, when the country retreated from the major war and succumbed to civil war. To think that the ‘crisis’ from 1985 onward was an insurmountable challenge would therefore be invalid, after all, the USSR had survived far greater calamities after the Second World War.

Although the economy of the USSR was slowing down in the 1980s, economists still saw the single digit GDP growth as manageable, one that did not threaten the stability of the country’s economy. Although the price of oil surely caused trouble to Soviet finances, adjusted for inflation, the price of oil was higher than in the previous decade.

The Soviet Union’s military and diplomatic standing is correctly judged as having accomplished or managed well it’s objectives in the 1970s through to the 1980s. Even with Reagan’s military buildup, especially with the threat of SDI, this did not receive serious attention by military and economic planners in the USSR; simply SDI was treated as unfeasible in the short to medium term. Years later, historian Adam Ulam would quip that in 1985, “no government of a major state appeared to be as firmly in power, and its policies as clearly set in their course, as that of the USSR.”

The real situation then was, as with the previous decade, the USSR of the 1980s was a stable one, with no unemployment, no inflation, no mass protests and strength in its foreign policy. There were problems, but there was clearly no real crisis that can threaten the country’s existence. Perhaps more importantly for a country that had many autonomous republics and regions; there were no observable conflicts among its nationalities and ethnicities.

Even with a one-party system, the Soviet bureaucratic machine had many decision makers from top to bottom. Millions participated in the collective soviets, which are institutions of power. More than 150 million workers were involved in unions, and contrary to bourgeoisie denunciations, these institution are not ‘fake’ and functioned with vitality and much room for policy. As for the people themselves, a referendum as late as 1991 showed that the majority of Soviet people (75 percent) where in favor of keeping the Union intact.

Indeed even during the end of the 1980s and early 1990s, the Soviet central planning in politics and economics was more complex than ever because of the expansion of the economy and the increased freedoms of its people. In fact, as Roger Keeran says “it was the erosion of planning and the flowering of the second (underground) economy that raised barriers to economic growth in the USSR.”

As for the Soviet leader himself, Thomas Kenny rightly observes that “we do not believe that Gorbachev ever acted consciously at the outset to betray socialism and restore capitalism. In contrast to Andropov, who was a deep and genuine Marxist-Leninist, Gorbachev was a brilliant actor…without great theoretical preparation” but that over time Gorbachev “took the conscious decision that he was no longer a communist, but a social democrat…he no longer believed any more in planning, social ownership of the means of production, the role of the working class, socialist democracy.”

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Why American Exceptionalism Leads to Oppression

It is fashionable among the conservative elite to overplay, commend, and acquiesce America’s greatness. Their political correctness insists that America is ’embraced’ by people around the world who share their will to defend ‘freedom.’

In his book, A Nation Like No Other,   Newt Gingrich points out that the perceived decline of American primacy has its roots in downright unsound policies and bureaucracies back home. To him, even to deny America’s “Exceptionalism” is to run against the very principles to which the ‘Founders of Independence’ held on to in the past. He finds utter distaste in Obama’s belief that other nations, especially those who held power in the past, have the right to believe in their own exceptionalism. Indeed, Gingrich joins his fellow egotistical citizens who condemn Obama’s statement “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.”

His book presents the most insipid experience yet on American braggadocio; it offers a peak into how virtues are undermined by political agenda. Allow me to guide you to his unfortunate thoughts.

In the book, Gingrich expresses his derision of the concept of what he calls ‘Big Government.’ Quoting Professor John Wallis at the University of Maryland, Gingrich points out that the creation of “groups within the government…to the power profit, or protection they acquire by the favour of these persons, (are) but enemies to the constitution.” He concludes that “the biggest threat to civil society today is the growth of Big Government.”

Has he forgotten that the transfer of immense wealth to the ‘one percent’ was actually the brainchild of Ronald Reagan himself by enacting wanton deregulation? Is he even aware that it was during those times when the elite started dismantling the industries and relocated them offshore? It seems Gingrich is not aware that the 2008 recession was the cause of unsound republican policies and military posturing around the world. He seemed to forget that the strict regulation of the private sector was what’s needed to solve this unprecedented economic apocalypse.

If he is truly concerned with “people’s liberties and security through hard work”, then how come did he and his fellow Republicans allow labor and all that work be transferred overseas? To be responsible for the dismantling of factories and production ironically backfires against securing private property rights, which he hypocritically and deceivingly defended in his book.

He also maintains that “the Founders sought to diffuse governmental power so that no single person, group, or governing branch could accumulate enough to encroach on the people’s unalienable rights.” Then again, how come did he and his fellow Republicans ignore the voice of its people who argued against waging an ostracized war against Iraq? Didn’t George W. Bush went ahead and snubbed them in their faces? Indeed this ignoring traces its justification in his belief that “the Founders were adamantly opposed to direct democracy” which ironically goes against the same’s assertion that it “would fail to protect true liberty and would allow for the “tyranny of the majority.”” He further quotes John Adams: “Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”

And yet he has the nerve to share that “subsequent presidents heeded Washington’s caution to prepare for war while seeking to avoid it…America showed the world that, though it did not seek war, it would defend itself from foreign attack.” But the opposite is what Gingrich prescribes his country to do. He encourages maintaining peace and safety which “is best maintained through a robust military capacity”. And here again, he goes on a hypocritical assertion that “America leads the world in spending on the military and on national security precisely to ensure that our wars are as rare and as swift as possible.” Do we need to mention America’s yearning to destroy another country accused of aspiring for nuclear parity with Israel? As such, it is undeniable that he and his fellow Republicans endorse, focus, and thrive on and heed to the economic juggernaut that is the military industrial complex run by their elites.

He also focuses on America’s flawed foreign policy in the 1970s when the US scaled down (at least the overt ones) on its military commitments and disengaged with its allies elsewhere, especially in Vietnam. He was deeply concerned with the policy of détente adopted during that time as well as with the signing of the second SALT II with the Soviet Union because “the treaty…erode(d) U.S. strategic advantages” and that Carter adopted “policies that accepted declining power in the interests of “peace.””

Gingrich eulogized Ronald Reagan’s policy of “peace through strength” where America once again started building up its military might in the 1980s. Reagan added that “we’re not a warlike people…We resort to force infrequently and with great reluctance.” He encouraged Americans to take sides and take action by warning to “label both sides equally at fault” and caution “to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil.”

The former House Speaker also exaggerates what role, if any, the US has played in the dissolution of the other superpower. This is often overlooked by the West. It is often cited that Reagan, together with Thatcher and John Paul II where the tidal forces that pushed their rival to its demise and eventual collapse. Gingrich believed that “the disappearance of the Soviet Union was the end result of a comprehensive and morality-based strategy to promote freedom around the world.” Is this not aggrandizing and self-serving—credit grabbing as they call it?

Indeed, Mr. Gingrich’s assertions belong to the unpopular. He is among the American leaders who fall trap to using military might as a diplomatic vehicle of conflict resolution. He is opposed to “Big Government” at home while backing America’s ‘Big Government’ treatment of the world. He is utterly opposed to Obama’s “reset with Russia” policy, with Obama’s engaging in ‘dialogue’ with problematic states, and accuses his president of “elevating the tool of multilateralism into an end in itself…categorically rejects the very idea of American dominance.” He finds delight in fear mongering, where he accuses Obama of being a ‘socialist’ and that America is headed in a more Europe direction.

Gingrich even rejects the promotion of sustainable energy in his homeland. He categorically opposes Obama’s moratorium on drilling, saying that it increases the United States dependence on foreign oil. Instead, he calls for “an all-out effort to increase domestic oil and gas drilling” and allow “producers to do what they do best: creating affordable and reliable energy.” He further adds that encouraging energy production, including domestic drilling, will create jobs and grow the economy.” It is thus tempting to deduce that Mr. Gingrich is not aware of the merits of pursuing renewable energy, not to mention the catastrophic effects of climate change.

In the end, it is he and his Republican partners who are guilty of protecting and advancing the interests of the privileged few while also discounting the welfare and liberties of the majority.   And to think that like-minded people rule Washington all the more confirms the menace of America’s supposed exceptionalism.  Indeed, they are exceptional, but in a negative way.

Capitalism: As Tired as the Environment it Plundered (PART III)

PART III: Militarism as a Tool of Economic Interests

I remember putting up Views from the East while the soon-to-be-called Arab Spring was raging on. Last year, the news was swarm with the headlines “Tunisia”, “Egypt”, ”Libya”, “Yemen”, “Bahrain”, and up to this day, “Syria”. Rewind a decade before that, the news was “Afghanistan” and “Iraq”. Indeed, with the humiliating absence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), more people are aware today of the real agenda behind those conflicts (spell blood for oil). The major conflicts of the opening rounds of the 21st century point us to conclude that America’s harsh stance against Syria is a prelude to an imminent conflict with the greater “evil”, Iran. After dropping assertions that Saddam Hussein hid his WMDs in Syria back in 2005, claims that Syria today harbors them inevitably raises yet another round of curiosity regarding America’s WMD accusations. Just think about it – Afghanistan is to Iraq what Syria is to Iran.

Time and again the strategy here is the same system of covert action and propaganda instigated by the ‘sole superpower of the world’: from the South American killing squads of the 1960s to supporting Mujahedin against the Soviets in the 1980s, to the conflicts in Africa, South Asia and the Balkans of the 1990s, and to the arming of rebels in Syria today. How did it came to be that America and its Anglo allies seemed not to respect and actually violate established international laws regarding the support of rebellion, regardless of whether they are for the greater good or otherwise? What then is the real agenda behind all these military adventures?

For much of its history, America has been all about the labels ‘profit’, ‘growth’, ‘competition’, ‘imperialism’, all of which are part of the grander framework of Capitalism. Through this perspective, it is not hard to contemplate that not only are these wars part of an elaborate scheme of plundering the resources of the world for their own benefit, but also making more money out of them (remember Monsanto?). Put more bluntly, Capitalism can grow and sustain itself by grabbing resources while also gaining from the process of grabbing resources. What are the examples of these?

A good case in point is Pakistan. In November 2007, Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf cracked down on protests and activists and undermined human rights in the process. As a result of this move, Pakistan lost military aid and deals with the Netherlands and Switzerland. For its part, the United States said it will review its contracts with the country. However, in a 2007 report by Arms Control Today, it was indicated that “Washington…would likely not prevent any weapons transfers, asserting such a decision could undermine counter-terrorism efforts.” As part of the “global war on terror”, US policy toward Pakistan meant not only supporting it against terrorism (which also means effectively dragging Pakistan into its military orbit), but also making sure it patronized American military hardware (which is sound business). In fact, weapons sales went up ever since, even though it meant sales and transfers of high-technology weapons, military training, and other military assistance to morally-questionable governments and regimes.

Of course, Pakistan is just one part of America’s military customers. The United States has offered military assistance to some countries that it had not aided previously in this way. For instance, Yemen has received grants to acquire U.S weaponry for the last 11 years, but none in the 11 years prior to 2001. Turkmenistan is now buying U.S. weaponry, and Kyrgyzstan is now permitted to make commercial purchases of U.S. weapons. Even more telling, 18 of the 25 countries in this series received more military assistance and 16 concluded more arms sales with the United States during the five years after the September 11 attacks than they had during the period between 1990 and 2001.

Data from the Arms Control Association also show that in the first five years following September 11, 2001, the United States sold nearly five times more weapons through Foreign Military Sales (FMS) and Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) to 25 countries than during the five years prior to that date. From fiscal year 2002 through fiscal year 2006, FMS to these countries increased from about $1.7 billion to $5.3 billion. DCS for these 25 countries have also reached new highs, rising from $72 million during fiscal years 1997-2001 to more than $3 billion during fiscal years 2002-2006. Pakistan had the largest increase in military sales (FMS and DCS) in the five-year period, signing agreements for $3.6 billion in U.S. defense articles. Other beneficiaries of the war on terrorism arms sale bonanza were Bahrain, which saw an increase of $1.6 billion, and Algeria, which saw an increase of nearly $600 million. Sounds good business?

It is not just this supply of arms and training that rings the alarm bells, the United States continues to ‘innovate’ its tricks to prevent (or foster?) these self-serving wars. Back in 2009, when talks of withdrawal and ‘Iraq is now safer’ where headlines, a strange, seemingly backward report surfaced: a member of the newly formed Iraqi parliament has accused the US and the British of carrying out untoward civilian bombings. The Sadrist lawmaker, Maha al-Dori linked the escalating violence in the country with the withdrawal of US forces, and that the ‘occupiers” are the ones who are responsible for a new wave of violence and overall insecurity. This betrayal aims to create at its core an illusion of insecurity in the country and merit the prolonged stay of American military ‘advisers’. Who can argue? Those bombings show Iraq cannot yet stand without America. And thus this justifies their continued presence up to this day.

This practice is what we can refer to as a closed-loop cycle: with increased conflicts come increased weapons sales and with it comes an increase in energy (oil) dependence. But why rely on foreign sources of energy when in fact America can and has historically produced its own? The reality today is that America has been running out of access to cheap oil since after the second Industrial Revolution,  proven by the relentless expansion of offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Therefore, an alternative to this challenging and unnecessarily expensive drilling must be found at all cost. So the bottom line is Yes – corporate America needs these wars. No wonder the US military-industrial complex receives the biggest incentives, budget, and employs more than any other industry in the country. For sure, Dwight D. Eisenhower will be very displeased to see the military to be out of control, who himself warned that the military-industrial complex must never be allowed to “endanger our liberties or democratic processes.”

Instead of relying heavily (or solely) on arms and military training as the primary tools of foreign policy, the United States and its allies should start scaling back on these activities and promote not only true and unstained peace in ‘failed states’, but also promote self-sufficiency among them. It is deeply dismaying that Anglo-America has continued to defy morals; that they continue to abuse humanitarianism to promote ‘peace’ and use them to expand their economic agendas; that it has pursued bullying through sanctions that exacerbate the international situation; and that it has proudly pursued unjustly practices to pursue its cancer of greed in the belief that “there is no alternative”, as Reagan and Thatcher believed to death.

It is about time to stop scolding countries that have become economically competitive if not successful (think Singapore, China, Russia, Brazil, India) by pursuing an alternative sociopolitical system (especially Scandinavian countries) and give in to the reality that Capitalism has disappointed the expectations of many, that it is in a decline and has damaged not just humanity, but also the world. The plague of Capitalism should be incarcerated to the dustbins of history, for it has hatched and grew from the sufferings of humanity and paved the way for the irreversible catastrophe of climate change. If we fail so, future generations will be in a more desperate situation than we are today. We must not allow the future generations to blame all of us; after all, all these scourge was caused by those who belonged to the class called Capitalists. The Bible can’t stress enough how it is against the rich and greedy: that the rich will have a hard time entering heaven, if at all.

Capitalism: Tired as the Environment it Plundered (PART II)

PART II: A Briefer on Poverty and Hunger

One of the World Bank’s objectives include the statement “the encouragement of the development of productive facilities and resources in less developing countries”. One of its focus involve developing countries in the fields such as human development, which include education and health. Quite sardonically, in 2010, it reported that “Almost half the world — over 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day.”

Such figures clearly point to inquiries on the hows and whys these came to be despite the promise of a better life (under Capitalism) and the promises of unprecedented economic integration (under Globalization). Is it really overpopulation that caused hunger or is it poverty to blame? As was learned in Part I of this discussion, since the elite (Capitalists) used education as a tool to undermine the real workings of this world, it is thus hidden from the majority of humanity that the real cause of poverty is overpopulation. This is the accepted reasoning since they controlled what and how we learn. In this way, the rich where always absolved from the responsibility of acting on the issue of poverty, and hence, hunger.

How common lands where distributed among the elite play an undeniable role in discussing the roots of poverty and hunger. In Africa, for instance, it is estimated that 80% of the population depend on arable land. But what if, as a result of privatization, these lands where taken away? Decades of liberalization (patterned after the West but not applicable to the Third World) have greatly decreased self-sufficiency among farmers, while at the same time doing nothing on how food can be economically available for them.

But are these lands acquired to produce more food per unit area and make them cheaper to acquire? History had it that there will always be a shortage of everything to keep costs high and profits going (growth – the universal word of Capitalism). Still, the primary reason for the shortage in arable land is their usage: for industrial production, mega-dam projects, beef production that benefit only the countries of the investors, for appropriation to golf courses, production of tobacco, and even the conversion offood to fuel (corn-to-ethanol and bio-fuel revolution in the early 2000s) as reported by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Just in the case of tobacco production, the situation seems to suggest a discouraging picture. Tobacco production degrades the land while also requiring more wood to cure it. Outside of soil degradation, this industry puts stress on water resources by requiring fast-growing but water-hungry trees, such as eucalyptus. In addition, their production encourages more smoking which degrade people’s health and increase medical expenses.

The same situation applies for coffee production. Although the production of coffee has had economic benefits such as employment, their production increased after the 1960s, but coffee price also fell more than 50% since. As such, its production is not sustaining itself well. Coffee plantation necessitates millions of hectares of land, not to mention pesticides that degrade the soil (which contribute to irreversible erosion), as well as waste pulp which pollute the water ways.

Another major contributor to land misuse is the textile/garments industry. As if the reallocation of arable land is not enough, the textile industry is known to put a real strain on water resources. The production of garments require a very large quantity of water: the textile industry is the third largest consumer in the world after the paper and oil industries. In its production, textiles require more chemicals as well (dyeing process) and also more energy to heat it. Even bigger than consumption, waste water from the process pollute river systems on a grand scale (taking into account their rank in the worst polluting industries).

In the case of bio-fuels, a little bit of political blaming has dominated the discussion, especially on the issue of whether bio-fuels such as ethanol do significantly affect the price of food. Proponents of the fuel, particularly the United States and some Western countries report that their production contribute to less than 3% on the price of food. However, in a leaked World Bank report (The Guardian, July 2008), the World Bank reported that “Bio fuels have forced global food prices up by 75%”. In fact, in official statements, the United States has placed the blame on rising demand from developing countries, particularly India and China.

Decades of liberalization policies (which are export- and self-serving oriented) have also contributed to poverty and hunger. Under the guise of Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs), for-export crops (mostly to Northern Hemisphere destinations) have replaced staple crops, which in turn hurt local food supplies and where available, make them expensive. Encouraged by free-trade agreements and Globalization, liberalization also contributed to the removal of subsidies allocated for smaller-scale agriculture and farming. The removal of subsidies in turn make local players vulnerable which puts them at a disadvantaged position against gargantuan multinational corporations. In this way, this closed-cycle loop is complete; to quote Richard H. Robbins, “To understand why people go hungry you must stop thinking about food as something farmers grow for others to eat, and begin thinking about it as something companies produce for other people to buy.” And yet, as the West views subsidies as the main barrier against ‘free-trade’ which must be abolished, their agriculture are the most heavily subsidized in the world, especially in Europe. This double-standard does not only contribute to the problem of poverty and hunger, but also to trade practices, otherwise known as protectionist policies.

Capitalism: Tired as the Environment it Plundered (PART I)

PART I: History of Socio-Economic Classes

I’d like to begin a challenging topic by admitting to what most laypeople consider as such: that hearing the apocalypse of capitalism/imperialism has become a tiresome theme. Indeed, it is a change of tone for my own creation Views from the East. But what if we begin by digging how ever did our society end up living to work instead of working to live?

In the past decade, as the developing world became more prominent in the running of the global economy and politics, it is imperative to focus on viewing the world as they see it. And this means focusing on the period before the French Revolution up to the late 19th century.

At about that time, the powers of Europe (most notably the British Empire) have become tired of influencing and colonialising near abroad; indeed, the discovery of the furthest lands (today known as South and Southeast Asia) where driven by the need to compete. At least before the 16th century, countries (or more precisely for that time, native lands) in the region where dominated by primitive hunters and gatherers. The idea of slavery came about when the most powerful men (rulers) realized the native lands can be bordered and be arable, hence the creation of agriculture. Thus, agriculture not only gave rulers their own ancestral land, but also can be used for what soon became known as barter, or trade, which is the foundation of the framework called economy.

So when did Capitalism enter the scene? As stated earlier, the powers of Europe exhausted their resources competing in the near abroad and went on to compete somewhere else. To etch an economic system based on the privatization of the manufacturing of goods for profit (Capitalism for short), a framework of domination has been devised. This clever domination, in the form of Imperialism, is the root of all misery that has plagued mankind ever since.

It is perhaps better to understand Imperialism by asking the question “why do I need work to live?” If you are more a success as defined by Capitalism, then you might ask “if I earn more, can I establish my business? Will I be happier if I had people work for me for my own profit?”

To answer this, we need to backtrack a bit. From being hunter-gatherers to slaves, landlords became merchants when a new system of trade activity was introduced: profit. The concept of the profit became a norm with the full swing of the period known as the Age of Imperialism. From now on, all economic activities will revolve around the concept of profit. This Western ‘gift’ was to be established at all cost, using the guise of economy, politics, and even culture, or collectively known as ideological state apparatus. In simple terms, ISA is the establishment of a system (in the guise of a state) to further the economic interests of capitalists. In defining so, we might start asking who then are the capitalists? Let us allow German philosopher Karl Marx to identify the socioeconomic classes of man: at the bottom are the farmers (who virtually own nothing), followed by the assembly workers (factory workers). Next in the classes of man are petite-bourgeois (middle-class, the educated, and sometimes shop keepers and members of the government).   And at the top of this dangerous hierarchy are the national and international bourgeois, or the owners, who are themselves the capitalists.

Indeed, to exist is to be enslaved by Capitalists; through Imperialism, the delusional framework of political (conflict and judicial), economic (through an imbalance in trade with the aim of creating debt; Colonialism and Fascism disguised as education ), and cultural {religion and family values (through the establishment of norms, discontent can be pacified)}, has thus been created. In so identifying these dangerous illusions, we have also successfully arrived at the root cause of poverty.