An Era Of Disparity

Published on Countercurrents.org, by Mir Adnan Aziz, 22 July, 2008.

So far humanity has had absolutely no luck creating a society without the ultra privileged. The earliest human societies, though having very little in the way of an elite class still had clan leaders. These were the high at the time. Although this often changed if someone seized power from the current leader, the clan leaders still had the most access to wealth, food and the best of everything.

In the former Soviet Union, one of the first communist nations, we had the Communist Party. The Party advocated equality and improved lifestyle for the proletariat. In reality it was always amassing wealth and luxury, fit for an industrial middle class capitalist, for its highest members …

… Trade, another means by which developing countries earn foreign capital, also benefits the more developed and illustrates the ambivalence of wealthy states toward the world’s poor. Although poverty wins a measure of sympathy, the cheap work force of poor nations makes them an economic threat. By one estimate, if developed countries lifted all trade barriers to Third World goods, the latter would gain in exports twice what they now receive in aid. Foreign debt, another constraint on the development of the Third World, keeps growing. In 1970 the total debt was $100 billion; today it is almost $3.5 trillion, including service charges.

In essence these are the ‘fruits’ of economic globalization, a world of the haves and have nots. This staggering disparity of numbers is proof that we live in a world where all natural and human resources are exploited mercilessly, so that a small minority can consume far more than their rightful share of the world’s real wealth. Now, as we push the exploitation of the earths social and environmental systems beyond their limits of tolerance, we face the reality that the industrial era faces a burnout, because it is exhausting the human and natural resource base on which our very lives depend.

We must hasten its passage, while assisting in the birth of a new civilization based on life affirming rather than money affirming values. All over the world people are indeed waking up to the truth. We should strive and take steps to reclaim and rebuild our local economy. It should also be our goal to create locally owned enterprises that sustainably harvest and process local resources to produce jobs, goods and services.

Ideally our economy should be local; rooting power in the people and communities who realize their well being depends on the health and vitality of their local ecosystem. We should favor local firms and workers, who pay local taxes, live by local rules, respect and nurture the local ecosystems, compete fairly in local markets, and contribute to community life. A global economy empowers global corporations and financial institutions, local economies empower people. It is our consciousness, our ways of thinking and our sense of membership in a larger community, which should be global.

Perhaps the most important fact of all, albeit forgotten, is that life is about living, not consuming. A life of material sufficiency can be filled with social, cultural, intellectual and spiritual abundance that place no burden on the planet. It is time to assume responsibility for creating a new future of just and sustainable societies free from the myth that competition, greed and mindless consumption are paths to individual and collective fulfillment.  (full text).

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