Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Which “ism” is Good?

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The economics of the world revolve around three “isms” – socialism, communism and capitalism. As a kid I believed that socialism as practiced by Nehru was the best for the country. Then as I joined my college, I got attracted to another “ism” – Communism and started believing that communism is the best “ism” for the country. There were a few years in my undergraduate days where there was a time when I believed that America and other Western powers that practice capitalism are bad and they are all imperialists. There was a time in my student life when I boycotted Pepsi and Coca Cola products – since they have their origin in America and hence represent imperialism.
The same me after few years went to US for doing higher studies and was very much impressed by capitalism. I thus become a fan of capitalism. I believed that capitalism can solve almost all the major issues of the world. This was till I read the book “The Shock Doctrine” by Naomi Klein. Rarely do I reread a book, I have read, that too in the same month. I have read this book three times and each time I am horrified with the facts given in that book.
This book essentially throws light about “how powerful few (read capitalists who have only profit in mind) create chaos (like they did in Iraq) and exploit that to brutally remake the world to their like to increase their profit”. This book explains how capitalism is followed now and how “rich gets richer and poor gets poorer”.
See below one of the many facts taken from this book. This is about South Africa where the African National Congress (ANC) soon after independence embraced capitalism. At first I did not believe what was given but I did some research and found that all these were 100% correct. The apartheid ended in 1994 and blacks got power and we all may be thinking that the average life of black people have improved under ANC rule. But what is the reality in capitalist South Africa? Here are the facts taken from “The Shock Doctrine”. 
  • Since 1994, the year ANC took power, the number of people living on less than $1 a day has doubled, from 2 million to 4 million in 2006.
  • Between 1991 and 2002, the unemployment rate for the black South Africans more than doubled, from 23 percent to 48 percent. 
  • Of South Africa’s 35 million black citizens, only five thousand earn more than $60,000 a year. 
  • The ANC government has built 1.8 million homes, but in the meantime 2 million people have lost their homes. 
  • Close to 1 million people have been evicted from farms in the first decade of the democracy in South Africa. 
  • In 2006, more than one in four South African lived in shacks located in informal shantytowns. 
Is this what you expect after ANC takes over the power in South Africa? Ms Klein gives us the shocking reasons also behind this condition in South Africa that points fingers to profit mongering policies of capitalist world. Read Ms Klein’s book with the statement made by Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tuto one will get the complete picture of what is happening in South Africa. 
This book sites example from Iraq, Sri Lanka Tsunami rehabilitation, reconstruction after hurricane Katrina and dictatorship in South America and South East Asia to show the evil face of capitalism. The Village voice beautifully sums ups this book – “its 10-foot-long middle finger at the Bush administration and the generations of neocons who've chosen profits over people in war and disaster; the effect is to provide intellectual armor for the now-mainstream anti-corporatist crowd”. 
Reading this book made me realize the other side of capitalism and I am now kind of convinced that capital”ism” is not the solution for world’s problem as I was believing till now. Now if capitalism is also not good, which is good? I don’t have an answer yet. My search continues.
I suggest you all read this book. To students of VIT University I have a copy with me and will be more than happy to give it to you.
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