Capitalism causes inequality
I know that I live in a culture that thrives off of the backs of people I will never meet.
I read books and articles about the goings on of the world: the destitute poverty in Africa, the outsourcing of labour to China, the drug wars in Latin America and, here in the West, the inability to stop the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and structural adjustment from perpetuating exploitation for commerce.
The leaders of the precious “developed” countries tuck a piece of tax dollars away in aid for Africa, and celebrities show up in these exotic lands to tell us how we can help.
Since the end of colonization – the period in time where the global north controlled and exploited the south for trade and slavery – the majority of newly de-colonized countries have been unable to stand on their own two feet and become “modern.”
Except, it seems, for China and India.
This is at least the perception that is reiterated daily in international news.
It is one that disconnects the actions of those in the global north to the experience of those in the south. When in fact it is our fault, as members of the “developed” world, that innocent people are kept in poverty, are victims of war and are treated as though their lives are disposable.
The UN reports that within Angola and Sierra Leone, conflict diamonds are still fuelling rebel groups that violate international attempts to restore peace in the two countries.
In 1947, it was the American company De Beers that began the campaign, “A diamond is forever,” to boost sales by ending the recycling of diamond rings by passing them down through generations.
Although De Beers promotes conflict-free diamonds, it is the demand for diamonds they have created that perpetuates the industry and thus the continuous presence of conflict diamonds within the market.
At other times, companies convince consumers that we can buy our way out of poverty.
The “Product Red” campaign is the perfect example of the system that believes somehow increasing consumerism will overcome the challenges the world faces.
Whoever buys into these notions is clearly unaware of the complexity of world poverty and inequality; they are more keen on trendiness.
It is the way of life the “developed” world lives and preaches that results in the neglect of the majority of the human population by exploiting others for our benefit.
We are not helping those in poverty, we are the ones making their poverty; poverty so entrenched in the foundation of the civilized West that it has become impossible for others to escape.
Furthermore, the lifestyle of capitalism, what is deemed as progressive and arguably civilized, is what we see as the next step for “developing” nations.
As if the system in which the West lives is the right way to live.
I do not feel as though the exploitation and oppression of millions for the gain of few is something ever to be aspired to.
It is impossible for everyone in the world to live as the global north does, as someone must pay for the price of luxury.
We would not be able to purchase products in the passive, alarmingly disposable rate at which we do if everyone was treated with dignity and fair pay; but maybe that is something we must realize.
The Western world can hand their money over, bring attention to the monumental disparity in the world or even try to “help” by lending a hand, but it is really the actions of our daily lives that will truly make change.
Corporations must witness a demand for products that are local and reusable so that they are no longer invested in capitalizing on the instability of foreign countries or selling goods that continue the throwaway culture of the West.
In order to have global equality, we must close the gap between the rich and the poor but this takes sacrifice on the part of those that have all the wealth.
Until there is a drastic change in the Western perception of “developed”, there will always be inequality, but it is willing inequality due to the selfishness that is so prevalent in capitalist culture.