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Compassionate Capitalism vs Responsible Capitalism


Written By: Ajmal-Masroor
01/06/2014 13:26
Thoughts and Ideology

What’s wrong with our world today? This question has been dominating the minds of many pundits for years yet the answer is simple – it’s the economy stupid! The economic system in the modern world is based on unfair and unethical principles and sits at the root of the problem. In todays world the gap between rich and the poor is the biggest it has ever been. Those who have money are doing everything to consolidate and hoard their money as close to their heart as possible. From price fixing to libor, from bank bonuses to toxic debts are all examples of how the world is seeing a proliferation of unethical money making schemes. It is a world of extremes - superrich on one side and super poor on the other, economies gone mad! 

You don’t have to go very far to see the economic inequality that is plaguing the 21st century world. Can you believe there are people in Britain today who have to make choices between food and fuel? If they warm up their houses they will have to stay hungry and if they feed themselves they will have to stay cold. And in Africa a child would have died every 20 seconds, in other words by the time you would have read the next paragraph a child would have died because of shortage of food or clean water. This is totally unacceptable and immoral especially at a time when human beings are sending satellites into the space, racing to reach the furthest planet and manufacturing weapons of mass destruction. 

The head of IMF Christine Lagarde said in a speech in London recently, “inequality is rising” and “if you take the 85 wealthiest people in the world – they can all fit in a double-decker bus. Well, they have more amongst themselves than half of the population of the world – the poorest have of course, but that is 3.5 billion people.” 

The analogy is absolutely pertinent and shows how a very small band of people enjoys far too much wealth at the expense of the rest of the world. Will the IMF be proposing a fairer distribution of wealth or urge the super rich to give away a portion of their wealth to the poorest people of the world? I doubt it. In fact I believe they will advise these wealthy people on how to make more money from high rate of interest bearing loans and investments. Ms. Lagarde has spoken but have the superrich truly listened? And will they do anything to change the status quo? 

It is interesting that this is coming from the head of IMF, an institution that has been responsible for crippling developing worlds economic growth by levying hefty interest repayments for loans taken by the poorest countries in the world. IMF is accused of social engineering by imposing foreign values on world’s poorest nations as preconditions for the loan and causing some of the worst moral and economic shifts in those countries. 

You may not think that there is anything sinister going on but I find the timing extremely interesting that just as the world’s ordinary people are beginning to flex their small muscles using votes as the weapon of choice to show the rich, the ruling elite and powerful two fingers, IMF and the super rich are gathering to discuss economic inequality and propose responsible capitalism as a step forward. This sounds like a self-serving façade that is being put out to prevaricate and placate a universal backlash. The ordinary public is fed-up of politicians and international organisations trying pull wool over their eyes. 

The most alarming thing is that more than 40% of the wealth is in the pockets of less than 10% of the world’s wealthiest people. How did we allow this to happen? The poor have become poorer and the rich have become richer over the last century! It has never been all about the competitive edge of one company over another in a level playing field in the open market. In fact it has been as a direct result of economic exploitation and debauchery the gap between rich and poor has increased. Responsible capitalism will not suffice to alter the unfair tide of inequality. What is needed is a moral and ethical paradigm shift. I believe Compassionate Capitalism would be a better way to restore economic and social equilibrium. 

The governments of the world have either turned a blind to the exploitative activities of the superrich or actively facilitated the squandering of the wealth from the society. They have sold of state assets to multinationals that have made grotesque amounts of profit at the expense of people’s economic hardship. They have privatized essential services including railway, utilities and healthcare. In return the political parties have directly benefited or the politicians stand to benefit once they have finished their term in the office. Tony Blair is a case in example. This is not just a mockery of the entire human race it is a blatant violation of all norms of decency. I find this grotesque disparity between rich and poor unethical, unacceptable and damn right shameless. 

Digital and print media, which are mainly owned by the same elite and superrich, have been promoting valueless, amoral and hedonistic lifestyle. The masses have been kept befuddled by cheap, mind altering and addictive intoxicants and narcotics as well kept under illusion of wealth through widespread gambling and credit outlets. This is not “supply and demand” as some would like us to believe, this is deliberate manipulation of the masses to maintain a status quo. It is abhorrent and total betrayal of trust. Responsible capitalism will not alter this behaviour. Change in attitude in the superrich will pave the way to more equality in the world. 

We live at a time when the popular culture is artificially manufactured by the entertainment industry and greed, wanton excess, extravagance, pretentiousness and acute love of materials are celebrated as good. Selflessness, generosity, compassion and genuine philanthropy are mocked at. Morality is seen as a sign of backwardness and even weakness. Religious and spiritual values are locked away in private space. The market place is left at the hands of those who can use heavy muscles, be brutally cut throat and extremely savage like. How would responsible capitalism change this behaviour in people and instill values that will create compassion within the greed driven superrich? 

Unfortunately the absence of a moral framework and ethical principles has given rise to “dog eat dog” culture which has become normal and achieving personal goals at any cost is seen as totally acceptable. It is all about “me” and “mine” and this mantra has taken deep roots in the hearts and minds of most people. Who is responsible for propagating and normalising this uncaring and dispassionate economic culture? In my view capitalism is single handedly responsible for corrupting the natural goodness of human beings and ravaging the natural resources. 

Would responsible capitalism make any difference? What does it really mean? 

I don’t think it will make any real difference. The idea sounds very similar to “responsible drinking mantra” that the same bunch of ruling and wealthy elite was preaching not that long ago. Yet the attitude to alcohol consumption in the developed world has not become more responsible. In fact the cheaper and wider availability of alcohol has made irresponsible drinking more normal. The multinationals that own the breweries have engaged in shameless and aggressive advertising to increase their sale and consequently make outrageous profits. They have not shown any sign of care for the emotional and physical well being of people. They simply do not care. 

Today Western Europe tops the list for the most alcohol consuming countries in the world. Responsible capitalism is a baby from the same breed of greedy superrich vultures. They don't care if you live or die, what they care about is their profit. When they gather to discuss this they would just gloss over the economic inequality and carry on plundering the world for more riches. This a small club for a select handful of people. 

Capitalism has produced a number subliminal cultures including desperate and insatiable urge to become rich and famous. Everyone wants to become rich and famous very quickly. And they want to get there at any cost. The association is simple, if you could become famous fortunes will come to you and if you could become rich you could buy fame quickly. The desperate desire for wealth and fame is an indication of how people have been brainwashed to thinking these are true gateways to happiness. It is also symptomatic of the deeper malaise in the society and I believe it is fuelled by secularism.

I remember when I was young and Mrs. Thatcher was the Prime Minister of Britain, in one of her infamous speeches she declared that there was no such thing as society. Her dismissal of society was part of a deeper philosophy that was being promoted and championed by the ruling elite, the aristocrats, the privileged and the extraordinarily rich people. The ultimate objective of this philosophy is to reject the collective and communal interest and conscience of people. It was all about giving more opportunities to those who already owned substantial wealth. For them it is all about individual interest. They have inherited privileges through their wealth and their disproportionate access to economic opportunities. I was deeply repulsed by her idea.

We are not only a product of our own effort rather our substantial part is the product of a collective and societal effort. Wealth should be created and economic growth must be managed but it must be fair and equitable. It must be for the benefit of all people and not just a select few. It must be sustainable and non-exploitative of natural resources, environment and people. Wealth has the potential for tearing up families and loved ones but wealth also has the potential to heal the sufferings and eradicate poverty. It needs genuine people who subscribe to an overarching moral philosophy, which would guide a more spiritual, compassionate and value led capitalism in the world. The world should be looking to replace the aggressive secular capitalism that has wreaked havoc in the world with a more compassionate and humane capitalism. Responsible capitalism is in the interest of the individuals and compassionate capitalism is in the interest of all. 


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About Ajmal-Masroor

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  • Name: Ajmal Masroor
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    Ajmal Masroor is an Author, Broadcaster, Relationship Counsellor , Politician and Imam based in London, UK. His facebook profile can be followed https://www.facebook.com/AjmalMasroor

    This Blog is made by his Fan and all writings are collected from his Facebook page which is Public.

     

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