How much are we all to blame for the situation in the 3rd world?

Countries fall into three broad categories bas...
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Another day, another argument. This time a socialist from reddit is taking exception to my previous article where I explained how the developed nations have taken summarily the role of the bourgeoisie against the 3rd world which is becoming the world’s proletariat. Specifically his argument seems to be that workers do not share any of the blame for the situation in the world but that it’s rather only the fault of the Capitalists.

He then asks for proof to the contrary and this is what I hope to tackle today.

Because you are accusing me and millions upon millions of other workers of exploiting other workers. I think its quite understandable that you prove to me that a link exists between the poverty of the oppressed workers in the third world and the relative prosperity of those in the first.

Alrighty then. Here we go.

Historically

There is ample evidence today to know that the nations we call “the 3rd world” today, did not become so by themselves. If you look at any of those nations’s history, all of them have been at some point in their past colonized by an imperialistic nation. Those nations that engaged in Imperialism as the ones we call today “developed”. The cost of this “development” was the supreme exploitation of others through slavery, taxation and outright theft. This not only slowed down the development of these nations but it outright put them quite a bit back, paving the way for the miserable people living within to be used as cheap labour by our current breed of exploiters.

But what does this have to do with workers? I claim that any person who benefited immensely from the atrocities of his ancestors, shares a moral responsibility to make up for it. To deny this is to claim that the son or grandson of a brutal dictator who plundered his way to wealth, deserves all his inheritance.

Our standard of life is high because our ancestors ruthlessly plundered the wealth of whole nations for their own benefit. This wealth through inheritance and supply-side economics eventually enriched the whole society.

This is not to induce guilt. I see no point in feeling guilty for the sins of the fathers since there was nothing one could do to stop it, neither does guilt invoke action. However our moral responsibility remains and will remain as long as those nations remain woefully inferior to ours. I wish to dispel the unbased notions that the western nations deserve their superior standing because we’re somehow better than everyone else.

The exploitation trickles down

The Capitalists of today prefer to outsource their factories and other means of production to undeveloped nations so that they may get the biggest surplus value possible. This surplus value, created with the labour of the extremely exploited nations does not even have a chance to improve their own lives even a bit through supply-side economics, but rather it is transported across the world.

The developed world nations are thus getting all the surplus value created by the exploited nations and then use that extra material wealth to create yet more exploitation and wealth. The definition of a Capitalist. And summarily, that is what we are. Our western societies as a whole have the wealth (initially achieved through imperialism), which they invest in order to make more wealth for themselves.

The worker that lives in that society gets to enjoy to surplus value along with everyone else. He may still be exploited but in a much smaller degree than any other time in history. This is why the Capitalists can successfully argue how you can just get a better job, or get retrained to a more lucrative position and whatnot. In our society, Capitalism retains the impression of functionality only because it floats on the foam of the blood of everyone outside it.

So what does this have to do with the worker? The fact that we are participating in this scheme means that we are at least partly responsible. By consuming the products created by such exploitation we are endorsing the continuation of this tactic. The Capitalist would not make a profit when people refused to buy shoes made by 13 year old girls and thus such a practice would eventually stop. Same for horrible conditions, wages and whatnot.

This would have two possible results

First, the capitalist would increase the working conditions and payment of his workforce to a point comparable to us if he wanted to sell in this market, at which point it cannot be considered exploitation from a national scale. This would have the effect of course that the prices of those goods would not be able to remain as low for everyone. Is this a worthy price to pay for equality and a clean conscience?. I say yes, but our friend has a different opinion.

Why should workers suffer in any way, to let the boss profit? Should not the workers in the importing nation demand to the government that only products produced by unionized workers earning an acceptable wage be imported? Yes I say, and let the capitalists take the cost! Not the workers!

But such an action would have the same effect. The only difference in the second case is that you involve the government (with all it’s impotence and protectionism of the Capital) to do what you should and could have done yourself. The end result will be the same though. The prices will raise and the “workers will suffer”.

The second option would be that since the Capitalist cannot make a profit from transporting and selling the cheap products to the developed nations anymore, he would instead attempt to sell them to the local population. To be fair, this option would probably be a possible outcome of the first scenario since the cost of transportation would decrease the profit too much.

So what happens then? First of all, the wealth that this nation produces does not leave it. It means that, at least, the lives of those societies are enriched, in a similar way that a worker reaps the rewards of his own labour. Certainly, the money goes mostly to their capitalist bosses but, at the very least, supply-side economics guarantees that the wealth which is kept in that nation is at least spread around.

Then, it also means that local businesses for the developed nations will start popping up again. Since the profit margin drops when having to transport and the worker costs in the developed nations are as high as here, Capitalists will prefer to invest in local businesses. This will boost the production of each nation in turn (as opposed to the current system where all the factories are outside) and increase the proletariat.

And finally, the last effect will be, unfortunately, increased exploitation. Once Capitalists cannot buy cheap labour in China and sell it expensively in Germany, the natural course of Capitalism will assert itself. Exploitation will increase. Wages will drop. More working hours will be demanded etc. The standard stuff with which Capitalism undermines itself and raises the awareness of the working class.

With one difference from the current situation. It will be universal. The workers of the world will be exploited at an equal degree. No more will the Indian see the American earn 10 times as much by doing half the work. No more will the French consider his countrymen superior because they happen to have a much better lifestyle than the Egyptian and thus “must be doing something right”. The workers of the world will go through the same struggle and become for once, internationally, comrades.

And when that happens, Capitalists of the world beware!

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31 thoughts on “How much are we all to blame for the situation in the 3rd world?

  1. Your "ample evidence" is sadly lacking and your reasoning is deeply illogical. All of the evidence points to third world nations halting their own development entirely by themselves. This applies to both Africa and China.

  2. You claim that underdeveloped nations are being exploited because, having a cheaper labor pool, their goods are sold in developed nations cheaper than if the developed nation produced the goods themselves.

    How is this exploitation? I will acknowledge some working conditions suck. But if an individual chooses to work very hard for what we consider low pay, that's not exploration, that's their choice. They have determined it's better than the other options available to them. Rural farming for example.

    This is not an endorsement of child or forced labor. But if it's an arrangement between consenting adults, free from coercion, by definition it cannot be an exploitative relationship.

  3. This is exploitation because the utility that these people is used by others and the surplus value that they create is gained by the Capitalists. It is not a choice that they work under such a condition, it is passibe coercion. The coercion of work (for me) or starve. It's as wrong as someone telling them "Work (for me) or I will shoot you". Both are coercion.

    And no, they do not have other options. Not everyone can be a farmer

  4. This is exploitation because the utility that these people create is used by others and the surplus value that they create is gained by the Capitalists. It is not a choice that they work under such a condition, it is passibe coercion. The coercion of work (for me) or starve. It's as wrong as someone telling them "Work (for me) or I will shoot you". Both are coercion.

    And no, they do not have other options. Not everyone can be a farmer

  5. This is exploitation because the utility that these people create is used by others and the surplus value that they create is gained by the Capitalists. It is not a choice that they work under such a condition, it is passibe coercion. The coercion of "Work (for me) or starve". It's as wrong as someone telling them "Work (for me) or I will shoot you". Both are coercion.

    And no, they do not have other options. Not everyone can be a farmer

  6. I think what you define as "surplus value ," I define as profit. But without my job offer, their would be no profit from this person's labor.

  7. No. Surplus value is the work that is created through labour. Profit is what remains after the worker has been paid a percent of the value he created and the raw costs have been paid off.

    And anyway, without my slavery offer, there would have been no profit from this person's labour either. Does that make slavery moral somehow?

  8. Slavery is involuntary, so no it's not moral. Your offer would be more accurately phrased "work for me for free or starve".

    I am not abusing their situation. I am making an offer, which they are free to decline. As long as I am not using coercion to force them to work, it cannot be exploration. I am not responsible for this person's situation before we met, and it is not my fault this person has fallen on bad times. I do not owe them any "surplus value". I only owe them the wage we agreed on.

  9. No, my offer would not be phrased more accurately like that. Nor does slavery have to be involuntary. In the past many people sold themselves into slavery. My offer would be exactly as I said it "lose all your freedoms or (I let you) die"

  10. I am not abusing their situation. I am making an offer, which they are free to decline. As long as I am not using coercion to force them to work, it cannot be exploration.

    That's simply your attempt to rationalize the situation in order not to see that you are exploiting the situation. The non-exploiting thing is to always allow the person to keep the surplus value of his labour. Anything else, and you're abusing their situation for their own profit. All your "it's not my fault" and "I'm not responsible" are just egoistical excuses. The slave-trader was also not responsible for buying and selling the slaves (even if he wasn't the one capturing them) by this reasoning

  11. Don't you know what the standard capitalist response would be? In a free market, laborers would supply their labor to those who offer better conditions, and you with your offer of slavery would soon go out of business. 😛 (The argument entirely ignores real-world constraints, of course.)

  12. Sure but this is just a comparison to point out the immorality of using passive coercion to achieve exploitation, not the feasibility of Slavery in the modern world.

  13. And I was just pointing out the fact that some capitalists claim any undue immorality would be weeded out in a free market. *shrugs*

  14. So if I pass a homeless person in the street, and offer him a low paying job. If I say to him "work for me or starve", is that exploitation? What if I offer a low paying job to 2 homeless people? A hundred? Enough to fill a factory? How many jobs do I have to create before I am exploiting my fellow man? What if I never offered them the job and they starved?

  15. So If I see a starving person in the street and offer him to be my slave in exchange for food and shelter. if i say to me "be my slave or starve" is that not slavery?

    So to answer your question, yes you are exploiting them as long as you do not allow them to retain the full surplus value their labour creates. You abuse their situation in order to enrich yourself.

  16. So If I see a starving person in the street and offer him to be my slave in exchange for food and shelter. if i say to him "be my slave or starve" is that not slavery?

    So to answer your question, yes you are exploiting them as long as you do not allow them to retain the full surplus value their labour creates. You abuse their situation in order to enrich yourself.

  17. But if I give him 100% of what he produces I'm just wasting my time. Surely I, his employer, deserve some profit because without me this person would have no job. I don't understand how allowing a person to feed himself is exploitation. Because in the process I also allow myself to feed myself? That's nonsense. Two rights don't make a wrong.

  18. No you don't deserve some profit as his employer. You're not helping, you're exploiting.
    If you really want to help, allow him to use some of the means of production you possess that would go to waste if it wasn't for him (or anyone else for that matter). Allow him to cooperate with you so that you can increase your production and the value you create.

  19. You're redefining slavery.
    The institution or social practice of owning human beings as property, especially for use as forced laborers
    -en.wiktionary.org/wiki/slavery

    Forced laborers being the key phrase.

  20. You have the cause and effect of imperialism and industrialization exactly backwards. The industrialized nations were only able to subjugate far corners of the world because they already had the advantage of technology and accumulated capital.

  21. Let's dispense with this strawman right now. I'm not offering slavery. I'm offering work for pay.

    We are both better off if the person in question accepts my offer. By definition that cannot be exploration.

    Why do I owe them the surplus value? Did I agree to? How did I take on this obligation without agreeing to it?

    1. We are both better off if the person in question accepts my offer. By definition that cannot be exploration.

      No you are not. The worker is right back where he started at the end of the day, while you have grown richer without working.
      Very similar to slavery if you ask me. The only difference is that instead of bying for him his food and clothes, you give him the money to buy his food and clothes.

      If you do not give the full surplus value the worker creates, you are exploiting him. Thus you are morally condemnable and the workers have the moral right to change how the system works and lay claim to the means of production

  22. And also, Canada and the United States were both colonies of the British empire – and somehow they became big-time nations despite being "oppressed" by Britain.

  23. It wouldn't go to waste – I'd just have to run the machines myself, and instead of us both having a job and me being free to invest and create new wealth and employment, now I'm being less productive than I'd otherwise be, and the homeless guy starves to death.

    1. No, you can't run a factory by yourself. You need workers.
      Either that, or you expect someone to do all the work for you while paying him less than he makes, simply because you happened to be there first. This is again exploitation.

  24. There's nothing mystical about it. Capitalism slowly increases the living standard of the exploited and eventually when the living is too high to be cost-worthy, looks for other people who have a lower-standard still. This is how Capitalism displaces crises geographically.

    If there is no more people to find, it goes into crisis unless it can displace it in time through debt.

  25. it was this one. i got lost…somehow.

    it's amazing the convoluted logical hoops people will jump through simply just to justify their behaviour (or lack thereof) isn't it? i think i'd honestly prefer it if they just said "yup, hands up, i'm just nasty and i do not care" but people seem to hate admitting that.

    and i don't think anyone is in any doubt about various collusionary actions on the part of various africans. white boys just ain't got the genes for the african interior (too many mozzies). the point is we made the profit, we have since used that profit to hold the third world down (and yes even all that lovely tax money given in aid has largely just exacerbated the situation). all we've done is internationalise the problem, so none of us have to actually step on the poor people as we walk our streets (if you're lucky enough to live in socialist europe anyway). out of sight, out of mind…

    human created situations are never beyond human control (ny the very definition of them). this is a fact is anyone seriously saying that the worlds combined GDP isn't enough to pay for universal healthcare/housing/welfare? look up the numbers, collectively we make a lot of money. if there are people in this world who are hungry, tired or, fuck it, even just a touch uncomfortable the alleviation of their woes is quite comfortably in our power to grant (and no, no one should have to work for it).

    question is whether or not we can be bothered…

  26. Unfortunately the poor of developing countries have no say whatever in education, agriculture or any other programme. The people who do have a say are those in power who are already well fed and educated. Many of these have been corrupted by power (Mugabe in Zimbabwe for instance) and have no interest in improving the lot of all the people just those that belong to their power base.
    We need a stronger UN to ensure governments cannot act in this way and to make sure that politicians are aware that if they do they will be held personally responsible and face international penalties.

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