Saturday, November 17, 2007

And the Last One Got a Whack on the Tail

I remember as a very young child reading a book about a bunch of ducks. They were cared for by a human who let them swim in a pond. Every evening, they'd all hurry to enter the duck house on the pond. They hurried, because the last one in got a whack on the tail as xe went in.
This really bothered me as a child, because no matter what the ducks did, one would always get hit. There was always a loser. I wondered why the ducks would bother getting faster since one would always get hit regardless of how fast they were. Of course, the individual duck might benefit, but only at the expense of some other duck.
A capitalist economy is kind of like that. I hear people talking about 'make poverty history' but none of them seem to get that poverty is built into capitalism. In order to 'make poverty history', they'd have to fundamentally change our economy.
There is a name for the kind of change they'd have to make. It's a name that for many people has negative connotations - communism. Now, not all the parts of Karl Marx's idea need to be used, but if you're serious about making poverty history, one part of communism is essential. That part is 'to each according to their need, from each according to their ability'. That's the only way to 'make poverty history'.



Blogger Maya M said...

No. Ask survivors of communism about it. We have experienced it in Bulgaria. It ruined the economy and so brought about mass poverty. Not speaking about taking away basic liberties, lack of freedom of speech, mass imprisonments and executions for nothing.
From my point of view, poverty already IS history in the Western world. Thanks to capitalism.

2:16 AM  
Blogger Ettina said...

I agree that communism as practiced has a lot of problems with it, but I do think there are good things about communism, and I think it should be fixed rather than tossed out completely.
And no, poverty is NOT history in the 'Western world'. Certainly not in Canada. Although the average state of living is quite good, there are people starving to death because they can't afford food, freezing to death because they don't have homes and dying of disease (especially on Native reserves) because they live in unhealthy places (eg without proper sewage, with lead paint flaking off, etc) or because their bodies are so weakened by malnutrition and other things (like cold) that they can't fight off disease. And even though Canada has universal health care, it doesn't pay for prescription drugs.
Also, there's no way all countries can live like the West - the very reason we can live so well is because of exploiting poorer countries.

3:59 PM  

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