The developed nations are living the good life while billions are starving and homeless. This article explains why we share part of the blame.
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.
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!