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INEQUALITY AND CAPITALISM by Ken Howell

posted 17 May 2016, 07:59 by Gerry Kangalee
Thomas Piketty in his book: - Capital in the Twenty-First Century - spoke eloquently about inequality. His book stirred up a fire storm as the defenders of capitalism embarked on a mission to discredit him, attempting to refute his findings.

Mr. Kevin Baldeosingh, who is a regular contributor to the Sunday Guardian, seems to have joined the ranks of the campaigners against Mr. Piketty. In his article entitled “Unequal Benefits” which appeared in the Sunday Guardian on April 24, 2016, he argues in favour of the inequality which is demonstrably present in countries all over the world.

This is a serious bone of contention in the United States of America, as the campaign heats up in the two political parties, in which the contending candidates compete for their parties’ nomination. In support of his contention, he sought refuge in the pages of a book written by historian Martin von Cerveld entitled: “Equality:The Impossible Quest”, in order to point out that the historian although he recognised: ” That where there is no equality there can be neither justice or liberty” continued to argue, that: “On the other hand, equality itself is not without its dangers. Should it be pushed too far, it can easily reach the point where it limits, or even eliminates, both liberty and justice.”

He went further to cite as an authority on the subject of this illusive dream called equality, an economist by the name of Thomas Sowell, who in his book entitled: “Wealth, Poverty and Politics” argued that: “Since many, if not most, economic outcomes depend on more than one factor, the likelihood of all the various factors coming together in such a way as to produce equal levels of prosperity and progress among peoples and nations around the world seems very remote”

What Mr. Baldeosingh needs to understand, and I suspect that he does, is that the capitalist system recognised long ago that while it must educate the human resource, which is an important component of the production process, it must also ensure that the capitalist view of democracy and of the world must prevail. That is the purpose which historians and economists such as those which he cited serve.

Issues such as equality, inequality, the extent of the limits that should be placed on inequality, in order to bring equality into equilibrium, are issues which occupy centre stage in societies in much of the world today. These are issues which are currently occupying the attention of working people in this country, as well as those in Europe, the Middle East and America. It speaks to the question of how the proceeds of the production process are distributed. It is also the centre of the controversy over the fact that the 
wealth of the world is concentrated in the hands of less than one percent of the world’s population.

But the good news is this. The people are learning the lessons which they are being taught by the actions of the exploiters. And that lesson is that we have no choice but to fight back! I hate to have to repeat this! But in order for equality to become a reality, there must be revolutionary change.

Most of the examples which he cited, in order to justify inequality, were differences in the personalities of individuals which, he claimed, can be explained by genetic hard wiring. He argues that leftists may advance logical arguments against inequality, which are not supported by empirical evidence. He refers to findings which researchers in the field of genetics, medicine, sociology, anthropology and so on, usually present as their findings, resulting from investigation into such matters.

But it is also well known, that some of those studies, are studies, which have been studied by other studies, which refuted their claims. For example, the research on changes in atmospheric conditions, which found that the world is currently experiencing climate change, has been refuted by elements that benefit financially from their investments in the fossil fuel industry; the over powering desire to accumulate wealth at the expense of the rest of society.

That is why the historian went on to argue the opposite position, because he knows that the more democratic rights which the working class can wrest, operating from within the capitalist system, will drastically alter the economic power structure upon which the bourgeois political system is built.

Western civilization’s political and economic foundation is built on the existence of inequality. It is because of that situation and the 
overwhelming desire of the wealthy for it to continue at all cost that the struggle to change the balance of political power is currently happening in the seat of capitalism and also in those entities that are wedded to it.

People are on the march against inequality; seeking through the existing democratic processes to achieve greater democracy, hoping to achieve greater equality of opportunity. If the system fails them, then the only alternative open to them is revolutionary upheavals.

Mr. Baldeosingh is well aware that historically and even currently, there exists inequality between nations with regard to social political and economic development. These factors will obviously stand out, if one seeks to compare developing countries with those who have attained developed country status. But even among developed countries there still exist differences in the way political and economic power is managed because of the difference in cultural practices.

But the issue is not simply about inequality between countries as it relates to their respective levels of development. It is more than that. It is about equal rights and justice. It is not about genetic differences, such as the difference between a man and a woman or between a gay and straight person. What Mr. Thomas Sowell conveniently chose to focus on was that which I have already mentioned. And not on the existence of inequality within the respective capitalist countries and those emerging economies which have adopte
d the capitalist model.

No one will argue, that given the different stages at which the political and economic processes are at in the respective developing and emerging economies that all the factors of development will come together at the same time, to produce equality. What the peoples of those countries are clamouring for, are the following: a better health care system; an education system which does not discriminate against the poor; equal opportunity to access good paying jobs; access to affordable housing; equal pay for equal work and so on. In addition, in times of economic crisis, they expect that the burden of economic adjustment will be shared equitably, but that never happens. It is the workers and the middle class who face the full brunt of the crisis. It must be understood, therefore, that the argument against equality is really one deliberately intended to justify inequality as it currently exists in our form of democracy.

It is an argument for which the religious can find support in the Bible (where, support can also be found for the argument against it). It was disappointing to see, that the whole premise and tone of Mr. Baldeosingh's article, was really a defence against the obvious: that which is happening before his very eyes. And yet he sought to deflect blame, away from the system; arguing that it cannot and should not be held accountable for the ills and the atrocities which are the result of the centuries of exploitation committed by the controllers of the system. The struggle against inequality will eventually succeed.
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