Saturday, August 18, 2007


"Fortunately, not entirely alone!"

This wonderful but sad photograph (click to enlarge) came from Goggle Images as do most of those that accompany my posts. For me, it highlights the cruel underside of the shiny capitalist coin.

Instead of the mansions, luxury motor yachts and beautiful people highlighted in glossy magazines, things normally associated with capitalism, it shows a derelict area with a homeless man begging on the pavement. This man is definitely not a symbol of achievement in the market economy.

Capitalism is a system that is based entirely upon a selfish, greedy, survival of the fittest, winners-are-grinners foundation. However, by its very nature, only a few are able to have it all. The inequality that it generates make it more a scourge than anything else.

What are we to make of the extreme contrast that typify each side of the capitalist coin? How do we fit together the glaring contradictions? How do we justify a few having all the material possessions that life can offer and having more money than they can ever spend and a vast army of people just surviving or struggling to make ends meet, to put food on the table, to pay the rent or the mortgage or health bills. Of course the unfortunates who live from hand to mouth and have to sleep under bridges or on park benches don't even get to do that.

More harrowing photographs could be shown of Africa and India, etc, places where at this very moment there are children dying from starvation and preventable diseases and lack of clean water and shelter. In many of these poor nations, capitalists are hard at work, stripping the resources at bargain basement prices, exploiting the cheap labor, polluting the environment. No room here for conscience, only for profit.

How do the people who are incredibly wealthy live with themselves while there is such gross inequality? How do those who run multi-national companies that make billion dollar profits live with themselves? How do rich nations live with themselves?

Quite easily it seems!


Robin said...

Hi Daniel,
Homelessness in America, Daniel,
take the time to look at this site,
Community for Creative Non Violence
(CCNV). In 1988, I did a research paper for college on CCNV and specifically on Mitch Snyder, who in order to get the interview, I gladly worked with CCNV for a week in DC. Upon returning home, I then did and internship with the Red Cross, specifically for a woman who was using her office there (personal emergency services)in order to establish , a shelter for homeless families in the LA area. (she was the founder-who also worked with other groups in our area) The difference in the approach between these two entities, Mitch Snyder, and the woman I was working with was stark.
While Mitch (who had learned his creative non-violent belief system while being a cell-mate to Daniel Barrigan "spoke truth to power" (from my interview with him) the woman at the Red Cross was much more concerned with rule making, weeding out the "scam artists" and controlling her project. While Mitch welcomed me and was affible, this other "Christian" woman, would send people seeking hotel monies through the Red Cross would make sure she invited her clients to her church.
My country has a HORRIBLE homeless situtation. My own city has done everything in it's power to get them off the streets, including shutting down a sack-lunch program at a local park (but the church who made the lunches just had them come over there instead) I do not know what the answer for this is, but I know that if I PERSONALLY come across a problem, when I can, each and every time I have been able to, I stop and bring food. (and give phone numbers, even have given rides to people)And talk to them, just talk, see if I can help NEVER have I been endangered or threatened, NEVER has anything happened to me which I regret.
Can you imagine if you were homeless, you were laying on a street, you had no money, no food, NOTHING and no one stopped to help you? This is what every single person needs to ask themselves, because, there but for the grace of God go I.
PLEASE don't be afraid of the homeless, PLEASE don't look down on them. (not you Daniel, anyone reading here). They are human beings who need those who can to help. And also, volunteer, and do it because it is the right and moral thing to do.
Thank you for posting this Daniel,
it IS a problem, and it is a MORAL problem.

Daniel said...

We live in an amoral world, Robin.

Hopefully your impassioned comment will stir a few consciences but of course those engaged in chasing money don't have time to read blogs like ours! Cheers.

Lucyp said...

And that is why i am a Socialist and urge everyone to educate themselves in alternative forms of Government so we can finally see for ourselves just how unfair this present system is.

Daniel said...

I'm a humanist, Lucy and see clearly the glaring shortcomings of capitalism. It is a scourge and it debases what little nobility we possess. Cheers.

Neo said...

I bet if someone actually talked to that wonderful looking man in your photo,they would discover a depth of character, compassion and compliance to fate that most of us could only imagine. I love meeting people like him. Wisdom beyond description and wisdom due to experiening "raw" living are becoming too rare if you ask me. My homeless days were the best of my life.


Daniel said...

What a great comment, Zoe. It gives another perspective which is what blogging is all about! Cheers. xxxxx

Dave Marlow said...

A component of socialism is recognizing the benefits, the antecedents, and ultimately the purpose of capitalism. We must remember that the bourgeoisie have played a highly revolutionary part in history, as far as eliminating feudal property and carrying out many necessary political tasks (women's rights, equal protection under the law, the abolition of slavery). Granted, these tasks were forwarded by the people below but their efforts would have been meaningless without the bourgeoisie and capitalism.

Capitalism, like any past mode of production, is exploitative and will eventually be overthrown. Thus is the nature of dialectics. However, it isn't as simple as calling capitalism an "evil" system. It's a stage in human development whose benefits we must remember.

Daniel said...

Dave, welcome aboard and thanks for making such a well-reasoned comment.

I believe that capitalism and pseudo-democracy have simply replaced royalty!

And with nuclear war hanging over our heads I'm not sure a case can be made for thinking there's anything positive about 'human development'.


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