Friday, January 23, 2015

Why inequality a much desired feature of capitalistic world ?

(The open letter to Mr.Thomas Piketty is the 2nd blog-post down from here)


Why modern societies deliberately create avenues of inequality



There are outcries from every sector in modern world about ever growing inequality. Every study by reputed institutions reveals that more and more wealth and privileges are going into fewer and fewer hands, and the number of poor and unprivileged human-beings are ever increasing in the world. The recent Oxfam study and Zurich study are examples.
The recent post by Bill Gates in the Linkedin PULSE column ( see link: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20141015002149-251749025-why-inequality-matters?trk=prof-post) commenting on Thomas Piketty's book on Capital, also acknowledges that inequality in the capitalist order is a naked reality. He suggested to tax increasingly on consumption, instead of the existing practice of taxing income to achieve more effective economic equality.
This is an attempt to get at the root fundamentals of inequality in modern societies. Some of the basic questions raised here to achieve this end are:
1) Is inequality a simple issue of unequal wealth distribution in society ?                  
2) What aspect of inequality pains the victim most;
a) Having lesser wealth or income than the more privileged ?
b) The capacity of the wealthy to enjoy all the luxuries of the world, depriving them from the common folk ?
c) His irrelevance in the society that is primarily measured on the basis of what one does to earn his bread, ( his job, or earning source) the attire and foot-wear he uses, where does he live,( the status of the colony /street he resides) the brand of car he uses, the style of language he uses ( the degree of sophistication of his language ) etc?
3) Does one's power-share in the polity also strongly contribute to inequality ? In other words, other than income disparity, does power-disparity also cause grave inequality ?
4) Is there a definite striving in modern society to always become unequal? ( to be above the common)
5) Does our existing socio-economic-political system directly or indirectly encourages a striving for becoming more and more wealthy and successful in society ? The naked reality of economic-class distinction measured and relished on the basic of the 'class', or the 'luxury' standards of the products and services one could afford to go for...
6) Is it not paradoxical for the modern world that at one hand it strives for equality as a socio-political value, and at the same time it encourages men and women to compete, and attain unequal heights in society ?
Let us take-up the above 6 points one by one here, for quick discussions on each question:
1) Is inequality a simple issue of unequal wealth distribution in society ?
The answer is a plain NO ! The poorest who dwells in an urban labor-hut but eats his 3 square-meals every day in his own tradition and style, does not bother if the extreme-rich does the same act,with an entirely different menu on his plate, and having the affair on a dining table costing many fortunes that the poor man can ever think of. For both the specimen, it is only a matter of inherited tastes and routines. If healthy, both models sleep well after having dinner, having some fun with the children, and then after a routine sex act ! Both parties live their lives, unaware of how the other one undergoes his life. They virtually live in two different worlds !
So, their lives are not qualitatively any different on account of the huge income/wealth difference.Here, quality of life standard is measured on the basis of the degree of contentment both models have; not based on any objective,external criterion. Issue of inequality does not at all bother them at this plane of life.
2) What aspect of inequality pains the victim most;
a) Having lesser wealth or income than the more privileged ? ( the deprivation aspect)
We could simply compare this factor with men and women with lesser body length.Except in very rare cases, body height does not affect one's base-line happiness in life. We can not ever conclude that the more the body length of a person, the higher would be his contentment in life, and the lesser it, the lesser his/her degree of happiness. As far as one has resources for 3 square meals and a roof to sleep under, the different way in which the other eat, drink or sleep will not disturb anyone's base-line happiness.
The cases of extreme poverty, ie. one's going to bed with out having anything to eat is an extremely rare event in the modern world, with many charitable and religious institutions who routinely offer food every day to those who come calling ( The Sikh temples, for example)
b) The capacity of the wealthy to enjoy all the luxuries of the world, depriving them from common folk ?
Some of the explanations above would answer this question; many in the lower strata of modern societies are even not aware what the rich eats, the luxury gadgets he uses at home. The two worlds are quite set-apart, and the inherited style and routine, rules their food and life habits than any sense of constant deprivation, or injustice.
c) His irrelevance in the society that is predominantly measured on the basis of what one does ( his job and earning source) the attire and foot-wear he uses, where does he live,( the size of his house, status of the colony /street he resides) the brand of car he uses, the style of language he utters ( his education and the life-style ladder!) etc?
Yes...other than the food he eat, or the kind of roof he sleeps under, or the dress he wears, what disturbs the poor and down-trodden most is the distinct and clear low-status in which the main-stream world look-upon and treat him!
There are clear mental divisions in society, or class distinctions, that determine one's status and relevance in the society, measured on the basis of his social appearance. When such distinct divisions exist, and when people get corresponding response from the society in the form of respect and regard for his status, every person is compelled to internalize his/her such 'allotted' dignity and value in the society, and adjust his himself, his looks and behavior accordingly. He wears a fitting self-image, many a times that of a dangerous self-hatred and self-denial ! He renounce the world that disparage him. He self-declares his non-belonging-ness to such a world, and create his own separate a world to dwells in. For any healthy society, such alienation of a percentage of the population into their own world of negative values and self-image is an extremely dangerous feature ! They are the ones who could disturb the very bottom peace in any society, by their criminal, terrorist or plain underworld activities, nullifying whatever is splendid and extra-ordinary about an age ! Our contemporary age's socio-political condition is a fitting example !
In short, the inequality as sensed by these men in the bottom strata of society is not based on his income or wealth inequality, but his degree of dignity and relevance the society offer him. It is about the class into which he is dumped, as an inevitable feature of the economic and political ways of the existing order.
3) Does one's power-share in the polity also strongly contribute to inequality ? In other words, other than income disparity, does power-disparity also cause grave inequality ?
This might be a rarely taken-up cause,or a feature of modern inequality. Modern democracy is simply a political power-sharing exercise among certain professional class of people. Every conceivable group in society,ie. religious, language, geography and even certain occupation like farmers are in a mad rush to form political parties, fight election, and have a participation in the government. Unrepresented groups and individuals often left alone in modern democracies, without power and any influence in the decision making process. This often leads to grave issues of inequality in society.
There are thousands of bureaucrats under every government,with the whole backing of the state, and a power-share in it. A good percentage of population are friends and relatives of these men, with equal hold in the power-basket, and they too do enjoy unlimited freedom and equality in society.
The rest multitudes are left alone, as mere power-less 'subjects' in the country. In the matter of being 'heard', or getting routine citizens matters done in govt.offices, or for gaining freedom from police,taxation, and municipality highhandedness, ordinary citizens routinely have to either bribe,or plead mercy from the ones in power for personal safety and survival. The snow-balling effect is true in the mater of political power too,hence money and resources get attracted to political power, and these guys increasingly grow very unequal in every modern democratic society.
The general inequality and powerless-ness of common citizens has a lot to do with the above unequal distribution of political power. Those who are without any political link often get despised and ignored at government offices for routine work, and similarly at police,taxation and municipal offices. The ones with some or other kind of political 'power' ( or even with money power, that always attracts political power ) are not a single individual in the strict sense of it; they are kind of monsters, with the backing of a hugely powerful and impersonal entity called the State ! An individual citizen is no match for him,with his total vulnerablity and defenselessness ! This inequality is, if analysed carefully, is the worst form of inequality in the modern world.
4) Is there a definite striving in modern society to become unequal? ( to be above the common)
We can answer only in the affirmative ! Yes... every one of us want to be up and above from the other, in the degree of dignity and relevance in society ! This striving is for avoiding the ignominy of being an ordinary citizen in the country!
If the criterion that had decided this difference from others was mere physical strength in the primordial days, it was changed to knowledge about the 'other' world of spirits and Gods ( the priestly class) later on in history, in the journey of mankind. Most of the civilization had periods of domination by the priestly class in their history.
Then It was followed by Feudalism, the upper-hand of men with large land holdings and the 'noble' ways they had dressed, spoken and lived. The so called democratic transition was in-fact a seeking of freedom and empowerment by the rich and noble class from the monarchs. The Magna-Carta treaty- the first of its kind in history-was indeed wrestled by the feudal lords from the kings !
It is said that the British monarchies were forced to recognize the House of 'commons', at the instigation of the House of Lords. Feudal Lords thought that such a step would reduce the power of the Kings in the long-run. The power and wealth of over-seas voyagers, and later the industrialists ( who were mostly from the class of common people) blinded even the then feudal Lords. Heard that some of them were ready even to exchange their noble-titles for the exotic items these voyagers brought from strange lands !
In short, no revolution -seeking freedom and liberty in history - was ever led by common citizens, genuinely wanting to alter their 'state-subject' status. They were all planned and executed by those who had been already rich and the powerful, wanting to escape the atrocities of the king or his likes. If American revolution was led by the rich planters in the new continent, hugely helped and supported by the French and the Spanish ( to avenge their defeat in the 7 year war with Britain !) the French revolution was known to have planned and executed by the secret societies of Jewish money lenders, predominantly based in Britain and Germany ( see link: http://www.lovethetruth.com/books/pawns/03.htm)
Whatever the case and cause might have been, though feudalism had come to an end, a similar upper-hand of a new class- the men of business and trade-took over the reigns of modern world from its old masters in 17th and 18th centuries. Though the peoples' form of government -democracy-took over major parts of the world from the days of American democratic experiment, for the much needed and inevitable country development,( ie. economic development ) the new political order and the men behind it, had no choice but to seek the active participation and collaboration of these new masters of the world! ( ie. from the industry and the elite sector)
The human individual is free today to have his own ways, ( the liberal order) whether it is about building up huge castles for himself and his family, owning air-crafts and ships, creating exclusive realms of luxury and life-conveniences for him and his men and women etc. This freedom of individual under the liberal spirit of the West, is an unquestioned norm in the contemporary, so called free-world, provided he, ( the rich and elite) and the companies he own pay taxes in time !There are many special industries catering to the unique needs of the life-style of these class of people, who own more than 50% of of all the wealth of the world as per authentic, recent studies.
Then comes the second, third, fourth and fifth etc.categories or classes of men with wealth and life-style, beneath the above 1%, the most elite class. There are specialized industries, products and services that cater to the needs of each of such economic class in the modern world.
Our knowledge of human nature is still inadequate to infer why man is in a constant pursuit to out-smart his fellow-being in success and achievement ! But one thing is clear that,our collective moral imperative always warn us (the mankind) that, equality is a better social-condition than the ever growing inequality in society that the capitalistic order will always usher-in. Without doubt, the striving for up-man-ship is a clear feature that our modern society is suffering from, and what the contemporary capitalist-democratic order indeed supports and encourages.
World have clearly witnessed the same outcome from its communist experiments too; many centuries of their reign at many parts of the world had not resulted in providing citizens their much promised liberation, individual dignity and peace. The so called 'workers' class, when successful in occupying the chairs of the 'ruling-class' of the states, had no other model to adopt, than that of the their predecessors who once they had ousted from those seats ! Today, communist nations are notorious for their lack of individual freedom for people,and for their despotic ways with the people.
There is a strange kind of equality under communist order, but it is like the equality of many 'zeros', with no value and relevance to any one. State is the ultimate unit of progress, success and fame !
Thus, communism also shut the hopes of mankind in ushering a new era of universal acceptance of individual human dignity and freedom.
If communists had made citizens the 'commodity' that constitute the state, modern capitalistic-democracies made them commodities for the machinery of industry to run!
Modern democratic-political order always play supportive role for the industry, as they provide the life-blood to the nationhood. Though there is constant strife between the polity and the industry on the question of who is the master of affairs in modern world, such conflicts are always outside the realm of people. People are always passive victims and state-material, as they were always been in human history !
America,the strongest of all democracies in the modern world, though succeeded in suppressing the recent agitation of the 99% of the population alleging that their cause is to free the nation from the reign of the 1% elites, ( The recent 'OCCUPY' wall-street etc.,agitations) it exemplify whatever we have discussed in the preceding para.
Thus, it is clear that every individual attempts to be smarter and successful than his fellow-being, while nations too suffer from the same disease. This age believes that competition is the only natural order, and it only would ensure survival ! Should this dogma be right ? Please share a link that explains a different story, at link::http://newphilosophyoflife.blogspot.in/

Susan George, a fiery activist against the new-liberalism of our era, in one of her papers writes: 

"There is plenty of money sloshing around out there and a tiny fraction, a ridiculous, infinitesimal proportion of it would be enough to provide a decent life to every person on earth, to supply universal health and education, to clean up the environment and prevent further destruction to the planet, to close the North-South gap--at least according to the UNDP which calls for a paltry $40 billion a year. That, frankly, is peanuts " ( In her paper presented at 'Conference on Economic Sovereignty in a Globalising World' Bangkok, 24-26 March 1999,see link: file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/Father/Desktop/A%20Short%20History%20of%20Neo-liberalism%20%20%20Global%20Exchange.html)
5) Does our existing socio-economic-political system directly or indirectly encourage the above value of striving for becoming more and more wealthy and successful ? The naked reality of economic-class distinction measured and relished, on the basic of the 'class' or 'luxury' standards of the life-style products and services one can afford to purchase.
We have seen an affirmative answer to this question at question no.3 above.
One's wealth or affluence is not measured by his bank-balance or cash in the purse.It is always measured and graded according to the 'class' or luxury of the life-style products and services one is able to purchase and own. The basic inequality is also predominantly gets expressed in the above way.
It is simple; social equality is dangerously hampered when some class of men can afford to buy a high-end mansion, or own and drive a high-end car, ( that costs sometimes 100 times more than the lowest category /model available in the market) and they are accepted in exclusive social-pockets meant for them. Then come a secondary, third, fourth and fifth categories of such products and services exclusively meant to be bought by some other class of men, with price and luxury ranges, un-affordable by vast majority of the population. These classes are able to express their high-end status in society by possessing a fit -range of luxury houses, cars, hotel stay, air-travel, medical facilities, foot-wear, clothing, food and beverages and every house -hold items of class and luxury !
This class range of products ( brands) and services has a clear hierarchy of price and status in the contemporary world, and their possession or affordability is what determines one's economic class, and of-course his social status, value and acceptance in society ! As once mentioned in a paragraph above,there are special industries catering to the need of each economic class, bringing-up fitting brands and imaginary social-status to pamper the respective self-image of the target end-user ! Using their brand or service helps the customer to express his 'class' ( or unequal status ) in the society in a distinct manner.
If our age genuinely wish to usher in social-equality, they could do so by restricting by law, the production of consumer items including dwelling units beyond a certain cost-range. Thus,dwelling units, cars, house-hold consumer items, clothing, foot-wear and thousands of such products and SERVICES ( like hotel-stay, air and land travel, health-care services, banking, insurance etc.etc) should be manufactured and offered at qualities and prices that could be afforded even by the last layer of economic-class in the country ! It is quite possible as a real model, as well as a lasting social value; see the example of the Metro-Rail services ( the tube rail service) in various countries - - -such services are open and affordable to every citizen without class distinction. The service is of standard quality, ( with all coaches air-conditioned) that no economic class could allege it as below-par. ( see our dedicated blog on the theme, at link: http://whatequalityshouldmeanindemocracy.blogspot.in/, and sub-links referred in the said main blog)
Every such product and service in the world should be of same standard, ( while upholding and respecting the creative idea in-puts of deserving minds !) leaving no avenue for the rich to show of his separate class distinction. This step could be aided by restricting salary difference also to a certain level; the difference between highest drawn and the lowest drawn salary must be restricted by law.
Such steps would never hamper the valued human spirit and creativity; rather its net quantum would increase, by the addition of it from many thousands of men whose such qualities had no avenue for expression in the past.
6) Is it not paradoxical for the modern world that, at one hand it strives for equality as a socio-political value, and at the same time it encourage men and women to compete, and attain unequal heights in society ?
No one with open disposition could refute this allegation ; while the entire world cry-out about inequality, the direction of the existing socio-political and economic order directly pushes, and encourage every kind of inequalities in society. Except a rigorous series of taxation methods, there exists no known means to curtail the evil of inequality.
The above mentioned method of ending the existing inequality regime would simply make sense on the following grounds:
a) When the unique avenues of expressing one's wealth no more exist, the proverbial greed to accumulate wealth should naturally get reduced. Greed is a result of the basic fear about future deprivations. When basic human dignity and freedom is protected and guaranteed,the mad urge to safe-guard it against future uncertainties would logically come to an end.
b) Consider that the total wealth of a nation is a corpus fund. When maximum of this fund is spent on constructing gigantic structures for the chosen elites, ( say, 1% ) or allowed to be kept by them in their private coffers, naturally, only the rest of the fund is available for meeting the life-needs of the remaining 99% common citizens ! When the community owned state resources are no more spent on select few elites and their lives, such hugely saved funds can now be used for building-up equal standard life-amenities for the entire population, as in the example of tube-rail service given above.
What the future of the world requires is a new model of progress, neither right,not left. A straight path in the middle is quite feasible, with an altered outlook on life, and towards fellow-beings, as shown in the blog link given above ( http://newphilosophyoflife.blogspot.in/)



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