Inequality And ImperialismBy Farooque Chowdhury 19 October, 2014
Countercurrents.orgCapitalism can't surmount inequality as the system itself creates the curse that humanity struggles to defeat. And, inequality, with imperial power and incapacities, affects societies in far flung areas distorting their economic-social-cultural-political development. Moreover, inequality with its political manifestations and ramifications threaten the system. But the system nourishes inequality. A seemingly strange, but inherent contradiction within the system!Advanced capitalist economies, the economies that have fattened themselves by bleeding the poor in every corner of the planet, are bearing inequality in spheres of income, well-being, health care and education. It's not possible for the system to break down barriers to equality, the dream humanity nourishes in its heart. This takes away all logic for the existence of capitalism while connections of capitalist crisis are exposed. 200 yearsThe sharp rise in income inequality across the world is one of the most worrying developments of the past 200 years, said the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in a recent report. “It is hard not to notice the sharp increase in income inequality experienced by the vast majority of countries from the 1980s. There are very few exceptions to this”, said the report How Was Life? Global well-being since 1820 (van Zanden, J. L., et al. (eds.) (2014) OECD Publishing, doi: 10.1787/9789264214262-en)“The enormous increase of income inequality”, the report said, “on a global scale is one of the most significant – and worrying – features of the development of the world economy in the past 200 years.” The report tracked wellbeing in eight world regions over two centuries. About three years ago OECD Secretary-General informed: “Income inequality in OECD countries is at its highest level for the past half century. The average income of the richest 10% of the population is about nine times that of the poorest 10% across the OECD, up from seven times 25 years ago.” He was presenting Divided We Stand: Why Inequality Keeps Rising , an OECD study report, in December 2011. The Secretary-General said: Inequality increased further in the US , Germany , Denmark , Sweden , Israel . It has “fallen in Chile and Mexico , but in these two countries the incomes of the richest are still more than 25 times those of the poorest.”The world capital blesses the rich: from seven times to nine times within 25 years, and more than 25 times of the poor!Despite many countries' recovery from the Global Economic Crisis, the OECD finds, “the distribution of “market income” (gross earnings and capital income) kept widening … Measured by the Gini coefficient (which is 0 when everybody has the same income and 1 when one person has all the income), market income inequality rose by 1 percentage point or more in 20 OECD countries between 2007 and 2011/12.” (OECD (2014), " Income Inequality Update - June 2014 ”)Inequality is behaving in an “amazing” way: Hardest the hit largest the increase. “The largest increases”, according to the OECD, “occurred in those countries hit hardest by the crisis: Spain , Ireland , Greece , Estonia and Iceland ”. France and Slovenia have the same experience. “In Spain and Greece , inequality of market income widened considerably in the aftermath of the crisis, and kept increasing more recently as the crisis persisted: compared to 2010, it increased by another 1.5 and 3 percentage points, respectively, in 2011. Market income inequality also increased by more than 1 percentage point in 2011 in Germany , Luxembourg and Portugal , compared to 2010.” (ibid.)In Australia , poverty is on the rise. More than one million Australians are in severe poverty, with access to less than 30 percent of national median income. More than 2.5 million people, and one in six children, are struggling to fulfill their daily basic needs. More than 600,000 children, and one-third of children in single parent families, lived below the poverty line. A significant number of Australians remained in “deep and persistent” poverty for extended periods, often for more than five years. More than 40 percent of all people on social security benefits fell below the poverty line. More than 100,000 persons are homeless. Adult working-age Australians are more likely to be homeless than any other age group, constituting 44% of all homeless persons nationally. Children have the second largest representation among those classified as homeless, with more than 1 in 4 homeless, children. (Cassells, R., Dockery, M., and Duncan , A (2014), Falling through the cracks: Poverty and Disadvantage in Australia , Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre and Poverty in Australia 2014 , the Australian Council of Social Services)The ACSS report cited the Australian Bureau of Statistics Household Income and Expenditure Survey that asked people about their actions because of a shortage of money. Actions taken by the respondents over the last year due to a shortage of money included “Pawned or sold something”, “Sought financial help from friends/family”, “Unable to heat home”, “Went without meals”, “Could not pay gas/electricity/telephone bill on time”. Do these sound “actions” by the poor in Third and Fourth Worlds (TFW)?Australia , it was claimed during the Great Financial Crisis (GFC), was not facing the crisis. The economy was happily cashing on coal export. But the coal power, along with casino and prostitution, has powered poverty also.Crisis not only generates inequality and poverty in capitalism. Crisis also aggravates inequality-situation although the system fattens with profit. During the last 200 years, as the OECD compares, the world found capitalism gaining strength to strength, conquering heights after heights, plundering land after land, waging wars for loot, abusing science and technology for maximizing profit. Over the last 200 years capitalism has gradually and forcefully entrenched its world system. Two world wars ravaged the world during the last 200 years. The last World War and its aftermath put extra wealth and power in pocket of capitalism. The Korea and Vietnam Wars brought more money to capitalism. Multinational corporations made huge investments and made huge profit during the period. Capitalism's “golden age” was during the last 200 years.Capitalism has ensured its control not only with its economic dictatorship, but has also imposed its political, information, cultural and ideological order, dictatorship, over the entire planet. It's imperialism. Post-revolutionary societies' efforts to reduce inequality set a few examples as the societies tried to break the chain of the imperialist world order. But those efforts faced disasters. A number of new examples are now emerging in a part of the planet. But still capitalism, the system owning enormous wealth, is the order of the day, and inequality dominates the capitalist system. Condition of the poor around the world is the evidence. Poor: lost more gained lessGains the poor made in the capitalist world disclose capitalism's capacity and incapacity, capacity to deprive many and benefit a few, and incapacity to initiate a fair distribution among many. “Lower income households”, the OECD finds, “either lost more during the crisis or benefited less from the recovery. Across the OECD countries, real household disposable income stagnated, and the income of the bottom 10% of the population declined from 2007 to 2011 by 1.6% per year (Figure 1). Focusing on the top and bottom 10% of the population in 2007 and in the latest year available shows that, on average across the OECD, the drop in income was twice as large for the bottom 10% compared with the top 10%. Out of the 33 countries where data are available, the top 10% has done better than the poorest 10% in 19 countries.” (ibid.) Figure 1: Poorer households tended to lose more or gain less Annual percentage changes
in household disposable incomebetween 2007 and 2011, by income group
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