Economists today are engaged in a hot controversy, for capitalism is a moribund patient at a time when the shores of US influence in the world are receding particularly from Asia.
The very word “capitalism” points out the fact that it is an economic system which is predominantly in the interest of the capitalist himself. In other words, capitalism survives on perpetual exploitation of the miserable starving poor: the class of Have-Not of farmers and workers by the selfish capitalist.
The first major weakness of capitalism is that it does not satisfy the needs of everyone. It looks after the needs of rich sections of the society. The problem was intensified by advent of the Industrial Revolution which was directed towards replacement of human and animal workers with machines innovated by ‘brilliant brains’ of the West.
The ‘efficient capitalist’ is a private owner of all three means of production; land, resources and capital; wagers work for him and markets where producers and consumers do business, that is selling and purchasing take place.
It is also important to know how things are produced and work is being done. The capitalist makes the machines and workers to exhaust themselves by exerting day and night. The result brings not only pollution in the ecosystem with regular emission of toxic smoke which turns into smog but also disturbance in human health with fatigue, stress, tension and ennui. The capitalist compels the non-standard and non-owners to do more without end as US keeps asking Pakistan to do more against terrorist groups.
The failure to satisfy growth standards of every person is further connected with two inherent weaknesses of capitalism. These are in- justice and inequality in distribution of wealth with negative repercussions on opportunities and quality of life. One asks: is it a fault on the part of the new comer to be born in a poor family and thus be deprived of blessing, enlightenment and opportunity to rise and progress throughout the span of his / her life time?
US claims to be the greatest democracy of the world insisting that it provides equal chances to the citizens to progress and to freedom from dominance. But outside its own country it is not so. It tries to exert and extend its influence and dominance by establishing more than 800 military bases all through the globe, mainly in Europe and Asia where US forces have been posted. There is clearly negation of the spirit of democracy which has been defined as freedom from dominance so as to restore dignity of man. How could US maintain its impact on world in presence of its double standards? The personality of Donald Trump reflects the same inbuilt conflict mirrored in the democratic capitalist ideology.
A bird’s eye view of history from WWI onwards is important because before discussing possible alternatives to capitalistic democratic setup, proposed by economist after WW1 when despite efforts like establishment of League of Nations in 1930 and of UN in 1945, could not bring peace in the industrialized competitive Europe, the two ideologies of fascism and communism immersed to get rid of interest- oriented capitalistic system. Instead of dawn of peace based on the principle of coexistence, the war, first, against Germany then communist Russia and now the process of disintegrating Muslims wherever they are and finally preparations are in the offing against US chief rival China.
But owing to inherent weaknesses discussed above and consistent wars - an experience of death worse than black plague on international level - even though the arenas are as far as Vietnam or Iraq, not only has US influence deteriorated, but capitalism has reached the end of its tether. It has been observed that in situations like Great Recession of 1933 and Economic Crunch of 2008, capitalism ceases to exist as banks had to borrow money from state to compensate for shortage of liquidity —- capitalism without capital, wow!
The reports are that the rate of unemployment in US in March and November 2016 was 12.3% while in Japan only 6%. Again, in comparison to Japan 0.1 %, the US rate of inflation in November 2016 was 1.69%. With the coming of Donald Trump as president, US trade deficit has risen 13% from previous year. Budget deficit for fiscal year 2018 is $ 200 billion on account of War on Terror.
Chinese currency Renminbi/ Yuan has a fair chance to become a medium of foreign exchange in place of dollar. In view of central role of Pakistan towards Chinese Grand Design of welfare and economic independence such as China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and sheer bulk of the business opportunities, it is imperative to link Pakistan rupee with Chinese Yuan. It has also been observed that rise and fall of great powers depend upon strength and weakness of currency.
The most horrible personifications of the mismatch are political economic actors who control vote power as well as market —- the three means of production and who have networks in their own countries as well as internationally. Their access has been made possible by developments in means of communication and transport, internet facilities brought by higher technology, control over enormous speed by innovations, artificial intelligence applied through created robots to accomplish the given work which nullify the use of human and animal workers.
Most significant question on economists’ lips is: as capitalism is in the process of fading away and as distrust is spreading all over markets, what system is available that has the strength, scope, acumen and wisdom to manage individual, national and international affairs with intentions of “common goodness?” Certainly, there is huge fear of total disintegration of natural and social environment.
Prescription for reforms includes factory legislation to improve relations between capitalist employer and the working employee, improvement in insurance policies and introduction of salary at par on the pattern of Government employees and so on.
The very little research gap one can find is the idea of availability of specific income, paid on lumpsum basis by government of one’s own country, as kids get ‘pocket-money from their parents to meet mundane expenses everyday. The idea is not original as it has existed nearly in the form of “zakat,” unemployment allowance, or insurance policy. The utilitarian British John Stuart Mill also thought of a scheme providing stipend to every individual of a society. It would be better if apart from linking it with one’s regular monthly income, the pocket-money is linked with GDP per capita. It is hoped that the proposal of regular stipend scheme will reduce injustice and minimise polarization. Muslim scholars and authorities can also be consulted before launching the scheme.
The writer is a senior analyst and an educationist based in Lahore.