The ‘Money Estate’ Colonialisation
“Every body continues in its state of rest, or of uniform motion in a right line, unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed upon it.”
Laws of Motion I – Isaac Newton
There is a widening gap between the First and Third World countries. There is an increasing polarization of wealth and a significant growth in the debt burden of the Third World. Is development per se the cause of such inequality or is it the type of capitalist development imposed by the First World and the strategies and policies imposed by the agencies set up by the First World like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank which accelerate such inequality?
Inequality is on the increase. In 1976 Switzerland was 52 times richer than Mozambique; in 1997, it was 508 times richer. Two hundred and fifty years ago, the richest countries were only five times richer than the poorest, and Europe only twice as rich as China or India.
In 1960, the 20% of the world’s people who live in the richest countries had 30 times the income of the poorest 20%; by 1995 it was 82 times. The world’s 225 richest people have a combined wealth of over $1million million. Only four per cent of this wealth – $40 billion – would be enough for basic education and healthcare, adequate food and safe water and sanitation for all the world’s people. The 15 richest have assets that exceed the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of sub-Saharan Africa and the assets of the 84 richest exceed the GDP of China, which has 1.2 billion inhabitants.
More than a thousand million people still live in poverty, a tenth of them in the industrialized world. Of the 4,400 million people in the Majority World, nearly 60% lack basic sanitation and more than 30% have no access to clean water. 25% do not have adequate housing. 20% have no access to modern health services. Two thousand million women are anemic (including 55 million in the industrial world). 20% of children in the world do not attend school to grade five. One in four of the world’s people still live in severe poverty. It’s worse for women than for men; and for black people than for white.
It is clear that even though we have advanced technologically, this has not contributed to the betterment of the human condition. Has imperialism, as a distorted form of development, masked the potential benefits of development in the Third World?
My view is that people who live under the belief that colonialisation is a thing of the past live under a grand illusion. The world that we live in is largely defined by self interest. Self interest has shaped the world we live in and distorted our perception of reality.
As the great Gandhi himself said,
“I suggest that we are thieves in a way. If I take anything that I do not need for my own immediate use and keep it I thieve it from somebody else. I venture to suggest that it is the fundamental law of Nature, without exception, that Nature produces enough for our wants from day to day, and if only everybody took enough for himself and nothing more, there would be no pauperism in this world, there would be no more dying of starvation in this world. But so long as we have got this inequality, so long we are thieving.”
The essence of what he was saying is that we have sufficient resources for everybody’s needs but we cannot fulfill their greed. Greed however, has been the defining characteristic of the human condition.
The feudal system developed out of the interests of the rich, influential, and powerful – the oligarchy.Their interest is focused on creating short-cut processes to wealth that bypass creative productivity in favor of various forms of stealing or looting. Historically, this involved colonialisation and slavery.
In modern times, colonialisation is found in the cartelization of resources. We have mining cartels, oil cartels, food cartels and the like. Modern slavery is provided by free trade between unequal-wage-cost economies, and the creation of debt bound economies in the third world. This is reinforced by the capitalist ideology of free and uninhibited trade. Even though economic theft through colonialisation and slavery is strongly anti-social, capitalist ideology artificially creates an environment that protects and insulates the imperialist’s position of power.
The focus of feudalism, in modern times, has shifted from land-estate types of feudalism but the underlying process hasn’t changed. Land-based feudalism limited the available land, which was the source of power. Today we have the “money-estate” form of feudalism. Today, the ‘peasant’ pays a substantial rent for his use of the lord’s property, called “royalty” or “interest”. In olden times this “money-estate” feudalist system was called “usury” and was banned by the church. The First Council of Nicaea in 325AD, forbade clergy from engaging in usury. Following centuries of church condemnations of Jewish usury, the Jews were expelled from many countries and regions. Now, it has become the global system. It is no longer resisted or abhorred and as a result, it is now looting the entire global economy.
Another feudal practice is the phenomenon of free trade between unequal-wage-cost economies. This can be traced to the time of colonialism. Today it is a global practice. Under this system the strength of the world’s poor, defenseless, nations is being exploited. The imperialists operate this free-trade process of international looting. Its’ globalised operations are looting society on a world-wide scale.
When one speaks of the “British Empire,” therefore, one speaks of this type of imperialism. Today this form of imperialism may be more predominant in the United States than anywhere else, but its’ ideological centre remains in Britain. The British monarchy serves as its structural base and ideological driver. The English legal system provides the legal platform for its power.
The British Empire no longer exists but its dominion and influence continues, by the direct domination of much of the world through its near global ownership of the media, research institutions and environmental institutions. It also exerts substantial influence on such global institutions as the UN, the IMF and the World Bank, by which its process of looting the world becomes legitimized and legalized.
The original idea of a stock-market was not to facilitate speculation, but to provide a platform on which the public could collaborate in setting up large companies that are jointly owned with the profits being shared. Today however it has largely become a speculative enterprise rewarding the gamblers and impoverishing the workers. A person who speculates that the profits of a company will increase in the future, will be willing to pay a higher price in order to get hold of these shares, to cash in the future profits. This price is more than what the shares are actually worth. A profit is generated for the original owner out of this process of speculative trading.
As the speculation continues, more cash will have to be put up. Unfortunately, for society, none of that extra cash produces anything as it doesn’t flow into the business to enhance its activities. Conversely, this money is drained out of the economy which is thereby deprived of potential investment capital. Once financial speculation sets in, society’s money no longer flows into productive processes that enriches lives, but is siphoned off into a speculative treadmill that enriches a few. It is now time to think about the shape of the world that we live in and to understand that the true nature of the world has not really changed at all. We just now have new systems of and new forms of oppression.
I once read somewhere that if we shrunk the earth’s population to one village of exactly 100 people. This is how the village would look:
60 would be from Asia, 12 would be European in origin, 15 would have come from the Western Hemisphere (9 Latin Americans, 5 North Americans, and 1 from Oceania) and 13 would be from Africa. 50 would be female and 50 would be male. 80 would be non-white and 20 would be white. 67 would be non-Christian and 33 would label themselves as “Christian”.
20 people would be receiving almost 90% of the village’s total income. 25 would live in substandard housing. 17 would not be able to read at all and 13 would be malnourished. 1 would die within the year and 2 would give birth within the year. Only 2 would have a tertiary education and only 4 would own a computer.
Its time to rethink the world we live in and the usefulness of the institutions we are depending on to get us out of trouble and the ideology that defines our reality. Let me conclude my thoughts by quoting another great man, Lincoln,
“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew.”