“Manifest plainness, Embrace simplicity, Reduce selfishness, Have few desires”
- Lao Tzu
I have a deep love for anyone who dedicates their lives or part of their wealth to Charitable causes. People who can freely reject consumerism and embrace humanitarianism full throttle I not only admire, but I envy quite significantly so that it annoys me just how weak I am in rejecting the pointless life I lead now, and embrace the route they take.
Those, like myself, who do little when we know we should do more, I do not have all that much respect for. In fact, they (and by they, I include myself) lead a worthless life.
Often the reason given for the success of Capitalism and the failure of Communism, is that the human race is inherently selfish; driven by our own self interest. And whilst I utterly disagree with that, it has become the centre piece for the argument in support of deregulated free trade. What this argument fails to accept is two points; firstly that with upward mobility increasing it isn’t just down to free markets, it’s also down to Government interference in the markets – the New Deal springs to mind, as well as social aspects like the Civil Rights act; Secondly, given that i’m going along the Taoist line – upward mobility has the opposite of downward mobility. America appears to classify it’s economic dominance by the wealth of the rich. The fact that 40,000,000 people cannot afford Health insurance, which includes 10,000,000 children is largely ignored because whilst those people are allowed to suffer in silence, people like Bill Gates can have $60bn. What is so horribly wrong and offensive when I suggest that we take $30bn of Bill Gates wealth, and spend it purely on feeding those who cannot afford to feed themselves? Let’s truly give everyone the right to life. Because not everyone can afford to be on the relentless trail of profit. Some, just need to eat.
Somewhere along the line, compassion died and the morality of self interest became dominant. Suddenly it isn’t Britain or America’s responsibility to lift millions of Third World citizens out of poverty; to feed them; to clothe them; to protect them. We prefer to turn our heads and blame corrupt governments, forgetting nonchalantly that many of those governments we empowered. We chose to ignore that our Western Companies such as Coca Cola have been poisoning water supplies in poverty stricken areas of India, because the profit gained pleases Western shareholders; who appear to be much more important that a few Indian children. And still, there’s an insistence that this system we live by, is the fairest. It isn’t the fairest, it’s merely because we in the West happen to be lucky enough to have been born where we were born, in relative paradise; taught to exploit whenever the opportunity to advance our wealth presents itself. And suddenly we all think if we try hard enough, we can become Bill Gates, rather than the reality that if we try hard enough, chances are all we’ll be able to do is afford a holiday to Spain twice a year instead of once a year, like before the promotion. That’s it. Every so often, a talent is required, like that of Bill Gates, and that person with that talent, is rewarded monstrously. If we lived in a World where we didn’t need Microsoft, in a World where blogging on a site called futiledemocracy.com were heavily rewarded, Bill Gates’ talent would be useless and mine would be incredibly well cashed up…. and Republicans would be shouting about how fair it is that I cash in on my talent. What if a Bill Gates exists in Sudan right now? What if the man with the idea on how to cure Cancer is born in Kenya tomorrow to an Aids ridden family? Are we really relying on the Western World to produce the most intelligent and brave people?
Today, a close friend of mine rang me up to tell me that she’d just been asked to give to charity, and she turned it down. She doesn’t like to give to charity. She then insisted that she doesn’t have the money to give to charity, yet in the next breath told me she’s been shopping in Primark and later in Subway. She vocalises her submission to consumerism; her pointless existence as if it’s perfectly ok. Which, it isn’t. It isn’t fair. It isn’t moral. It’s wrong. And yet, i’m no different. It’s the reason my room is kitted out with an Xbox 360, a TV, this very PC that I use to thunderously smash my confused fist against the keyboard buttons in order to create meaningless blog entries for Republicans and Conservatives to spew their bullshit over. It’s the reason I have books on by Chomsky, John McCain, Franklin Roosevelt. It’s the reason an episode from my series two Lost DVD is on pause. I spent that money on myself, which went to giant companies; which in turn helped to buy a new yaht and a house in Paradise for the Sir Fred Goodwins of the World. It’s wrong, so very wrong. And whilst I’m a horrible hypocrite for buying into it, i’m slowly trying to dig my way out of it. I don’t want to live a life based on the turd of consumerism. And whilst I have fully bought into the Capitalist system, i’m not somebody who will suggest it’s fair and right; I recognise the harshness and the lies hidden behind the system.
We’re lost Spiritually, because we’re found Materialistically.
My very Philosophy on life is that the less you have, the happier you are. The more you give, the more satisfying the result. Work should be undertaken for the community; everyone should be fed, sheltered, educated, and have a minimal standard of health care across the Planet. The moment anyone dies of extreme poverty, is the moment we all drop the chase for profit, and make sure nobody else can possibly die of extreme poverty. Once the Planet is free from poverty. Once Pharmaceutical companies allow their much needed drugs to be widely available in Countries like Mozambique at the same price as they are available in countries that do not need them like Norway; the moment essential resources of poor nations are not snapped up by European and American businessmen at the expense of the native people; the moment the plundering of resources does not harm any one in the way that Coca Cola harmed the water supply of India; the moment the deaths of 60,000,000 people over the space of five years from nothing more than lack of food is recognised as THE most important and inhumane issue facing civilisation instead of just being completely ignored because it’s more important to make sure a crook controlling AIG keeps his obscene pension – when all this is achieved, and only then, should we be allowed to focus on individual profit. We’re all people, we’re all from the same place, and we’re all going to end up in the same place. Why is it such a taboo to suggest we should work together and help each other?
The very same people who insist that Socialism, the redistribution of wealth, giving “free money” to those who haven’t worked for it, is wrong; then go on to tell me how inheritance tax is despicable. Isn’t inherited wealth just a form of inter-family Socialism? The children haven’t worked for that money. They could potentially inherit millions of dollars and not have to work a day in their lives, whilst the child who was born in the hospital bed next to him, has a family who are unable to leave him much at all. The rich only tend to insult the ideals of Socialism, when it threatens their wealth. Otherwise, they’re all for it. The moment we all realise how hypocritical and dreadfully ignorant we are, the better the chance we have at creating a much more equal and just society.
According to Commondreams.org , the average CEO takes home wages 300 times heavier than their workers. Are those CEOs 300 times more important? Do they work 300 times harder? Now i’m not sure where in the doctrine of fairness, it was written that the wealth created by those workers, was fairly distributed when it went to pay the CEO 300 times more money than themselves but where ever it was, it was wrong. I’d go further, and suggest that this isn’t Capitalism, this is Corporate Communism. It’s a bunch of small Communist companies, in which the bottom of the pit are exploited to feed the extravagances of the top few. It’s the reason that 40% of the World’s wealth is owned by 1% of the population. What if we took 30% of that away from them, and gave it feed the hungry? Why should we wait for people to be charitable? Is 1% of the population earning almost half the wealth of the World, the trickle down affect that Thatcher and Reagan promoted? When is that 40% going to trickle down? Because there’s an entire Continent over the sea called Africa that seems to have been forgotten.
Do I believe my life would be much worse, if I “Manifest plainness, Embrace simplicity, Reduce selfishness, and had few desires“…. no. I don’t believe that humanity is inherently selfish and addicted to the very core of consumerist sentiment so much so that we can’t let go. Nor do I believe that once that consumerist sentiment has burrowed deep within you, is it simple to let go. I’d be the first to admit that i’d struggle with TV, my Wii Fit, a bike, my books, and my PC. I’d struggle hugely. But that doesn’t mean I need all those things. It certainly doesn’t mean I should be free to have those things whilst others die unnecessarily. My greed and my selfishness embodies that of Western society as a whole. We all know consumerism is detremental, we all know that climate change is down to our excessive consumption of green house gases due to the fact that we take the car the short journey down the road because we cannot be arsed to walk; we all know that the food we waste is nothing short of criminal given that millions are dying every year for lack of that food; we all know that whilst we sit in relative luxury we are happy to blindly defend a system that is inherently unfair, unjust, corrupt and murderous by nature….. because to do otherwise, would be hypocritical of us at best, and threaten our luxurious lifestyles at worst.
I believe we’ve all had it drummed into our minds for far too long, generation after generation, told that free market capitalism, exploitation is fair and just. That we should just ignore those less fortunate because it’s probably their fault. We should just turn our heads to the African child dying in the street, because his or her government, who the child has never heard of or seen before is corrupt, that we should embrace it, because the alternative would mean we can’t have that Xbox game we want as the money would go to someone who actually needs it, and for some reason, that would be inexcusably wrong and immoral. It is, in short, utter bullshit, and we all know it, we just don’t all admit it.
Am I embracing my own Philosophy? Practising what I preach? No. Would I complain if a man came to my house, took my Xbox and sold it, then showed by a photo of a child who can now eat because the money he made went to feeding that child? No. I’d nominate that man for a Knighthood. He’s a better man than me.