I’ve been banging on for years about the failings of Democracy and Capitalism.
Perhaps I’ve been looking for proof of their success in the wrong places. Maybe I’m too preoccupied with, well, life or too stupid to notice the boundless universal prosperity all around me.
No! As ideologies go they’re rubbish. Seriously, in the business of creating and maintaining a balanced, fair and just global society, much that’s wrong in the world traces back to the modern day misinterpretation of one or other of these doctrines.
Bearing in mind Democracy and Capitalism evolved over hundreds of years from a basic idea of protecting ordinary people against the excesses of the State and the powerful elite, yet now, every day we hear of manipulation and abuse of these very systems by those same people with the result that, amongst ordinary people everywhere there’s a growing sense of ill-ease and unhappiness.
Democracy has become a tool of the powerful to control the masses.
They are scared of the masses. The masses are their cash cows. But they won’t protect us, instead they have made us believe that Democracy is so important we must protect it ourselves, with our lives. Consider the irony, we are protecting the very instrument that’s used to screw us.
Under Capitalism, governments in a great many countries have failed to provide for even the most basic needs of huge numbers of citizens. Human beings. Unbelievably, some of the wealthiest countries are home to some of the poorest people on the planet. For example, Venezuela has larger oil reserves than Saudi Arabia by a sizeable margin and yet millions of its population don’t have the money to pay for basic food or medicine.
In the 9 years between 2009 and 2015, America’s wealth grew by more than $30 trillion and yet, during the same period, the number of homeless children grew by 60 percent.
In the UK, the eighth largest global economy, 4 million children live in poverty according to UNICEF reports.
Worldwide, as far as we can calculate*, there are more than 150 million homeless children under the age of 14. This in a world where just 63 people at the top control the equivalent of the combined wealth of 4 billion people at the bottom of the pecking order (United Nations). The imbalance is morally repugnant.
Whilst world poverty overall appears to be decreasing, the distribution of poverty is becoming more widespread, even within wealthy countries. The fact that poverty exists anywhere is unacceptable.
The bad news for the elite is that their excesses will kill us all off, them included. The unfathomable gulf of inequality they’ve created is unsustainable because, in order to continue feeding their wealth, more and more of the planet’s resources must be used up by an increasing number of people at the bottom. Thus the circle is closed. This pattern follows the basic tenet of Capitalism which says that economies must continuously grow. As we all know, growth requires consumption, consumption requires people make things out of one type of material which other people feel compelled to buy with currency they receive in exchange for things they’ve made out of other materials which all derive from our single natural resource – Planet Earth. This is a fundamental truth because, as yet, not even Donald J. Trump has the godlike ability to create something from nothing. It is however, the ultimate Ponzi Scheme into which we are all forced to pay whether we like it or not. Trouble is, resources are running out and soon there will be nothing left to draw on. The planet will have nothing more to give. Ironically, in the real world, people have gone to jail for working Ponzi scams like this!
Everything we see and use comes from the Earth and as a result, by clinging to Capitalism, we are failing not only ourselves but also our planet. Earth’s resources are finite and yet we continually demand she supports us all, forever.
The impedimenta of Capitalism become the obsessions of Governments: work, national security, industrialisation, pensions, welfare, vanity projects, debt management and so on to the brink of madness. Work is the most prevalent because, in their minds, it’s this that feeds the machine most directly. Even when Governments have closed all the mills and factories and there is no work, getting people “back into work” is the mantra by which governments believe they can magically make their economies forever grow. Utter nonsense, of course. Stones contain no blood.
But, what if we, the people, decide that continuous economic growth is the worst possible thing that can happen? What if we decide that happiness and the welfare of everyone is the number one priority? What if we decide enough of what we already have is truly enough and anyone who accumulates more is an enemy of the State? What if we came to the conclusion that politicians should be held responsible for the decisions they make?
If, by looking around, you come to accept that Capitalism has failed, ask yourself what we’re going to do about it? Clearly, some sort of system is needed to manage our economies, but what form will it take? The answer to that question surely depends on the kind of world we want to live in.
*150 million is very much a conservative estimate.
This film provides a glimpse of an alternative way of living.
Bhutan is a living example that it’s possible to develop in a different way, and is creating a caring economy based on the values of altruism, compassion and collaboration.
It is clear to the billions still living in poverty today that the globalised capitalist economies fail to deliver on the promise to bring prosperity to all. Establishment economists measure the progress of our economy with obscure measurements like “Gross Domestic Product” – GDP, but this actually tells us nothing about what actually matters – the health and happiness of people and planet.
Gross National Happiness is a profound alternative that is not just economically sound, it is more in tune with our values as compassionate, caring human beings.