Geez I have been bad at keeping my blog. I’ve had a lot on I suppose… what with uni essays, exams and my Opa slowly dying before my eyes 🙁 … So yeah, haven’t really been so inspired to write just for the pleasure of it. Also I’m soon going to upload some videos, so that will be fun. Anyway, so that I don’t go a whole week without a post I thought I’d share with you what I have learned this semester as I read, heard and wrote about my two subjects: the Politics of the World Economy, and Rethinking Poverty. These subjects, I discovered, are largely interconnected.
Poverty, I realise now, is the result of the world’s political economy. It sucks. It’s not fair. It’s a very exploitative system that is designed to take from the poor and give to the rich. Anyone living on more than $2 a day is considered middle class, so probably anyone who is living in Australia, with access to even the most conservative welfare payments, should consider themselves in the rich bracket. We have far more than we need, and we only have it because of so many people don’t. People in poor countries work 12 hour days picking coffee beans so that we can drink our coffee. Then we sell them back some instant Nescafe for 10 times what we pay for their rich delicious coffee beans.
And what I discovered is the worst thing about our system, as I think I may have raved on about in my last entry, is that the economic model our system is based on completely ignores where it gets its inputs from, and where the outputs go. An economist from the world bank wrote in New Scientist magazine that he drew a circle around the economy model and wrote the environment, inferring consideration must be given to the limited resources and limited ability of our planet to absorb our pollution and wastes, but they threw that diagram away as it was too hard for them to contemplate. And so we continue to live in our fool’s paradise, accepting the costs it brings to other’s lives, and the costs it will bring to our own lives in 20 years time, and the lives of our children and their children.
What I am posting below is were conclusions drawn from my last essay Rethinking Development: Seeking Sustainable Alternatives. I’ll post the essay after it is marked but in short the argument it made was that “Development” has largely failed because poverty is not a consequence of the system, it is designed into the system and its eradication, scholars say, has been permanently postponed. In frustration after I finished the essay I wrote this one-page summary of how I see those in the developed world who want to help people in the developing world, can best help. And it is not by giving them money…. but by learning from them. More than anything it is us in the developed world that have to “develop” our own humanity. Developing our own sense of true identity (not one based on ownership and consumption) – and from indigenous cultures like the Incan mother and daughter in the picture from Cusco above.
Ok, so this was my rant:
1. Stop exploiting them
Stop imposing our worldview on them, stop imposing structural adjustment programs on them, stop giving them aid they don’t need, help them recognise their own powers, reinvigorate their own cultures, replace our cash-crops with bio-diverse food produce, help them develop their own independent self-sustaining society, remove our barricades, leave them free to design and implement their own solutions and help them only when they ask for it.
2. Take a look at ourselves
Do not think for a minute that we are more advanced than they are. Take a look at our own primitive actions, our lack of cultural and spiritual awareness, the way we are destroying the planet for everyone. We are not the super heroes of this world. We couldn’t be further from it. We may have had good intentions, but they were misplaced. We must try to reverse the damages of colonialism. Where gold, land and other resources have been stolen from abroad, work to give it back as we can, at the very least cancel the debt we think they owe us. Share our knowledge (when they ask for it), share our technologies (when they are wanted), and share our resources until they have recovered from the damage we have caused.
3. Rediscover our true identity
We must work to revitalise our own cultural roots, identity does not come from ownership of goods, buying this or that gadget, car, designer clothing, or house is not going to make us sexy, loved, safe or happy. Nor will the forty years of forty hours of work per week in jobs we do not enjoy. We need to seek ideals that are not dictated to us by advertising. We need to seek the truth behind political ideologies and religions, and see how power has changed them into dogmas they are not. We must think critically, learn from other traditions, religions and cultures, and transcend our problems with creative solutions. Shame those who are rich – everyone knows their wealth, whether directly or indirectly, has come at the expense of others. We must crack down on tax havens, stop giving the banks more money, stop over-consumption and avoid the obesity it brings. Redistribute money to those that don’t have it so that they too can have food and shelter. Share the work and share the income. Enjoy time for self-development, relationships, leisure and creativity. Decrease stress, decrease consumption, decrease wastes, decrease pollutions; allow resources time to replenish. Bring our children and grandchildren up in a world of peace and non-materialistic prosperity.
The first step is the CESSATION OF EXPLOITATION. A fairer world is a friendlier world. As poverty decreases, so will population, and so will security. There will be less need for weaponry and war, populations will stabilise or decrease, the world will be a safer and happier place.
Human beings created the system. Human beings maintain the system. Human brings can change the system. The power is in the hands individuals. Every individual.
Together let us work toward discovering life’s true potential.
Enough social movement self help benevolent hype for now… I promise that some more light-hearted fun stuff is going to pop up on my blog very soon 🙂