Where do we go from here?

The MA I’m doing right now is in development, which is why my posts are become more and more about that and less about Islam. I try to link the two when I can, but I hope you don’t mind a few posts that will be just about development and world politics in general.

I’ve spent the past 2 months reading about how the powerful countries and multi-national corporations have been screwing the rest of the world for centuries through colonialism, and now through development. We tend to think of aid and development as positive, because they are presented that way. Yet we never really think about who got us in this mess to begin with: the west. And now they are the same ones trying to get us out of it…shouldn’t that make us stop and think?

Most of the readings I’ve read so far say that the west has been advising the developing world to adopt policies that will not help them but rather exploit them even more. Privatization of almost everything, for example, has led to a state where millions of people do not have the right to water! The privatization of the prison system in America (the prison system!) has meant that it is all about profit…the more people they put in prison, the more money they make!

I just finished reading an article by someone called Peter Prontzos, and I think I’ve just about reached my breaking point. He points out that There is enough money in the world to get rid of poverty, disease, war, and other types of injustices.. The reason this is not happening is because the elites in the west are making sure that it doesn’t happen.

Almost 3000 people died on 9/11. Over $480 billion was mobilized to ‘fight terrorism’. Every year, more than 10 million children die from preventable diseases – 27,000 per day, more than 9 times the number of 9/11 victims. Every 5 seconds, a child dies of malnutrition. In that same 5 seconds, the world spends $125,000 on military forces.

In the year following 9/11, another 16 million children perished from easily preventable diseases and hunger – but there was no global mobilization to prevent this holocaust.

There are no longer any material reasons for scarcity in the modern world. Suffering and death that result from structural violence are neither natural nor inevitable. They happen because the rich need them to happen.

On top of all of this, I just read that 2 Israeli soldiers used a Palestinian child as a human shield and got 3 months in prison. 3 months!

I’ve given up trying to understand why the world is like this. I don’t believe it’s “human nature” because not all humans act this way when they are given power and money. I don’t believe it is a conspiracy theory, because it’s true that all the world seems to talk about is terrorism and the Islamic threat, instead of the very real threat posed by multi-nationals and the west, not only to the poor but to the environment.

Where do we go from here? What can we do? I think the worst part of it is feeling powerless, helpless, part of a system that can’t be overthrown. Capitalism, nation states and western dominance are all realities that are killing millions every year. The truth is, the way the system works means that it doesn’t matter which countries are at the top – they will do anything to get there and stay there. China is rising through the same channels that America used. Same system, different country at the top.


11 thoughts on “Where do we go from here?

  1. The numbers are astounding, and by the end of it, I also came to the conclusion that we are helpless against these installed systems.

    where do we go? Are the small things we do worth anything? Or should we abandon life as we know it and camp at some IDP camp and nurse the malnourished children – with AID money!

    Try reading confessions of an economic hitman if you haven’t yet – same message from someone who’s DOING it for the system i.e. crippling Africa and the ‘developing’ world.

  2. “The reason this is not happening is because the elites in the west are making sure that it doesn’t happen.”
    The elites of the East are usually left out of the equation in post-colonial and development studies. Although at times Eastern elitism is blamed on Western influence, which completely disregards the long pre-colonial history of power and corruption in the East independent of Western influence. This kind of thinking is, of itself, born of the colonialist narrative that holds those in the East have no identity-good or ill-aside from what they imitate of Western behavior.
    I said all this to say beware of blaming *everything* on Western influence. Though it be done with the best of intentions, this sort of reductionist thought reinforces some nasty oldschool Orientalist narratives.
    In any case, when confronted with the idea of “development,” always keep in mind the all-important question, “Developing into what?” The answer is usually “Developing into ‘us’.”

  3. Oh geeze, I just re-read my comment and it sounds like I’m lecturing you. That wasn’t my intention at all, sorry. I should know better than to write stream-of-consciousness comments πŸ˜‰

    • Haha no worries! You made great points. I focus on criticizing the west because 1) they are more at fault and 2) we tend to hear that the east is responsible for their current situation more than we hear that the west is. But if course the elites everywhere are at fault, some more than others.

  4. I think we are all at fault (in the west), not just the elites. I think common people are at fault because we are not exercising our voting rights. A measly 19% of people between the ages of 18 and 30 came out to vote at our elections for governor and senate seats. People who do vote are voting against their own self interests because they have been conned into believe corporations and big business culture will one day include them into their fold.

    As a result, those same corporations who got us into this mess are the ones trying to come up with the solutions. The problem is these companies and elites who are holding the power are further privatizing, and when giving aid to developing nations hold stipulations that they too must privatize (for example, health care).

    Privatization has even come to college education in America. Businesses now run colleges that advertise to poor people and people of color, and their “academic advisors” are sales people! Literally they get commission based on how many people they can get in the door! As a result, these kids go to a college with no prestige to it’s name, a degree with no power in the employment sector, have student loans more expensive than public universities, and cannot get a job because their degree holds no merit.

    This is privatization. Everything is up for sale, nothing is sacred, everything has a bottom line and a dollar to be made. People’s best interest is not in mind, only the self-interest of business.

    My God, I could go on and on about privatization. Companies that are taking over water utilities are trying to get ahead of the game, because in the future there will be rationing of water and they will be the ones setting the price for water.

    • I never realized how bad privatization was till recently. Privatizing healthcare was already bad enough, but water, prisons etc is insane! But that’s capitalism – everything has to be profitable.

  5. P.S.

    People change and grow. You may lose some readers but you’ll also gain new ones πŸ™‚ I hope you stick around and allow your blog to evolve if it needs to.

    In other words, Don’t Stop Blogging!! LOL πŸ˜›

    • Thanks πŸ˜€ Yeah some posts I get so few comments that I wonder whether I should post about certain topics anymore. I also feel like less people are commenting now and that sucks cause I love the discussions the most…but you’re right, I should let the blog evolve πŸ˜€

  6. Hun, don’t do it for the comments cos I read your posts but I don’t always have something to say. I just enjoy learning from your blog.

    Now, about the big bad MNCs. It’s hard for me to imagine how selfish people can be – be it elites or ordinary citizens – but it happens and the best we can do is to educate ourselves and others around us about what goes on behind the scenes. Then with our knowledge we can change the way we live and hopefully inspire others too.

    Sadly, people tend to close one eye when it comes to really important stuff like this because it’s less mentally draining to focus on the superficial.

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