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The Financial Express

The unholy alliance  


The unholy alliance   

The natural tendency of things is to slide from order into disorder. No one has ever seen various stationery items lying scattered around a place getting organised by themselves. But keep them there unattended and it won't take long for them to spread all over the place.

In exact science, there is such a concept called entropy, a measure of disorder in a system, which tends to increase if left to its own devices. Said in another way, unless intervened, that is, some energy is expended to keep things together, the natural tendency of the world is to get dispersed, even out.

But people's economic behaviour seems not to follow this natural law of the world. Wealth, for example, unless intervened, shows the opposite tendency of accumulating into fewer hands and not of being evenly distributed among larger number of people.

Small wonder that we see so much economic disparity in the world.

There was a time when many believed that the dream of a just society where wealth would be equitably distributed was achievable. It was just a matter of time, they thought. That most people have the tendency to accumulate is because primitive humans were forever in a state of scarcity. So, the drive to amass more wealth is a throwback to our primitive mindset, a mental straitjacket from which we would ultimately grow out of when paucity of means of livelihood would be a thing of the past.

With the advancement of human knowledge, people would become more civilised, and technology will make wealth creation easier. People will then look for more creative pursuits than running after something as cheap as wealth.

Utopia?

But such dream has been with humans for hundreds of years. Many philosophers, social reformers and revolutionaries seriously believed that the dream of an equal society was achievable, and not a fantasy.

But while many fantasies that people once thought were the preserve of the sages and the sorcerers such as flying like birds, going to the moon, building machines that can mimic humans and such other things were not achievable have now become a reality.

The greatest irony is humans could perform  miracles, but not do apparently simpler things like removing hunger, illiteracy and disparity from their midst.

 And the more people are gaining knowledge about themselves and the world around, the more mysteries of the material world and life now being solved, the more selfish, hate-filled and divisive they are becoming.

And far from moving towards a just and equitable society, wealth and income gaps within and between the peoples appear to be further widening. The rich are getting fabulously richer, unheard of in the past. Oxfam International, a confederation of international anti-poverty NGOs, in its 2018 global inequality report showed how fast the global wealth is getting accumulated in a few hands among a handful of nations: 82 per cent of the wealth created in 2017 in the world went under the control of only one per cent of the world's population. The world's poorest, some 3.7 billion in number, and who comprise about 50 per cent of the world's population, on the other hand, got absolutely nothing! Or in other words, half of the world's people were totally deprived of their share of the wealth they created.

On the political front, on the other hand, the forces of darkness seem to have been staging a comeback. In the advanced West, political liberalism is now on the defensive. The same is happening in the Americas. But what is alarming is that the forces of irrationality and unreason are not raising their heads through any conspiratorial means. They are using the same democratic institutions of the people like elections to rise to prominence and power as it happened during the third and fourth decades of the last century in Europe.

But now in the twenty-first century, such trends are not limited to Europe. They are using the platforms of democracy to fight the long-held principles of democracy, of equality and of brotherhood. They are using the tools of advanced technology like the Internet, digital platforms like social media to spread ideas and concepts antithetical to scientific and democratic norms. They are, as it were, to borrow the phrase of the celebrated American linguist, philosopher, political thinker and scholar, Noam Chomsky, manufacturing a new kind of consensus. It is the consensus of intolerance and hatred towards the minorities. It is the consensus of grabbing the resources of the common people by the few. The trend is on the rise everywhere. The kind of political vehicle they use is, paradoxically, though, termed populism. What is being touted as popular looks like a contradiction in terms, since it is the popular beliefs shared by the majority that are at heart anti-people.

It is basic instincts of the Homo sapiens that are being repackaged using scientific terminologies, sanitised and glorified as nationalistic and served to the majority as their sacred cause. But unbeknown to them, the majority is being used as guinea pig in the hands of the so-called champions of new nationalism who thrive on dividing and not uniting the people. So, they are the natural ally of the corporate power, whose job it is to grab all the resources of the world and put those to the service of not the majority, but a few. And so are the advocates of populism, new nationalism.

The democratic institutions are increasingly submitting to these populist political forces. The media is already under their control. Chomsky saw the big global business corporates behind 'manufacturing the consensus' where the media was playing second fiddle to the corporate power. But now, it seems, the corporate power itself is pandering to the politics of populism and not the other way around.

And populism with the power of big money at its service, is fast becoming unassailable. And by default, technology being a tool in the hands of the corporate power, is also increasingly serving the populist cause.

People need to raise their voice of reason, empathy and tolerance against the unholy alliance between politics of hate and the power of big money. They need to unite and intervene to stop further rise of forces that divide them.

 

Sfalim.ds@gmail.com

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