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A blond-haired US President openly hinting only white immigrants can be true American citizens, blue-eyed Nazis marching boldly on the streets of Europe, brattish Brexiteers in Britain harking back to days of the Raj and ‘twice-born’ Hindu supremacists in India fulminating against religious minorities.

Many have called the times we live in the Age of Anger but more accurately it should be dubbed the Age of Anything Goes, where the globe’s most privileged folks have clearly set out to brazenly negate every civilized norm, rule, tradition that was ever forged. In their visceral desire to stay in control, nothing –  not racism, not fascism, not bald lies or even the threat of genocidal war – is too shameful or extreme to deploy anymore.

Stepping back a bit and taking a calmer look at what is happening all around us today it is clear there seems an algorithm behind the apparent anarchy. Nothing is ‘spontaneous‘ or due to some confluence of accidental trends’ or even a mysterious ‘resentment’ of the masses spilling onto the streets.

The global chaos we witness is actually manufactured or at least taken advantage in a way that cleverly hides deep-seated global/national hierarchies, historical wrongs passed off as ‘normal business’ and machination by the very powerful to maintain their undue advantages

What the planet’s current rulers have adopted in their quest for continued domination, is a ‘mad dog strategy’ – of deliberately wrecking everything around – to keep those they rule, frightened like sheep, in line. And if they can’t win, they will poison the very wells they once drank from.

Every right won through hard struggle and the sacrifices of millions of ordinary citizens in country after country over the last century or more is now eyed for demolition. All the Constitutions, conventions and treaties of the world, mean anything to the global elites – they are all to be consigned to the incinerator. Even as the world’s population demands climate and economic justice, for the rich and powerful, the slightest of public control over their   privileges remains intolerable.

To divert popular attention, they have unleashed on the entire planet – a highly contagious pandemic of pettiness, hate and venality – spread through those vectors of instant and anonymous communication,Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, WhatNot, WhatEver.  Tragically, millions of ordinary citizens, whose own interests are sought to be trampled by the global elite, have joined the orgy of abuse and attack on reason, logic, facts, even common decency.

Can this pandemic be contained with the antidote of peace, brotherhood and love alone – as some seem to believe? Maybe some of that could work with some people,but the deadly nature of the illness calls for a far more robust response. The challenge is not just to identify the most effective medicine needed but also find ways administer it forcibly to those who rule the planet.

But then, who exactly are these ‘rulers’? It is slightly complicated because there are several groups of them – those who run the ‘developed’ nations of the West, national elites of post-colonial Asia, Africa, Latin America and of course the big corporations to whom all of them kowtow. With a little bit of delving into modern history it will be easier to understand what is really at stake for these ruling groups, the contradictions between them and where their interests merge.

Firstly, it is important to recognize that the shape of the modern world is still deeply influenced by an ‘original sin’ event that took place over 500 years ago – the ‘discovery’ of the Americas by the thief Christopher Columbus. This not only led to the genocide of the native Indian populations of south and north America, but the phenomenal resources of these vast continents were looted by Europe to industrialize itself and colonize Asia and Africa too.

To realize the impact of European colonialism on the current state of the world, one has to only look at how wealth was distributed five hundred years ago. In 1600 India with 22.4% and China with 29% accounted for up to 51.4% of world GDP. By early 1900s, when much of the globe was firmly under European rule,  India’s share of global GDP had come down dramatically to 7.47% while that of China dropped to 8.83%[i].

The two World Wars at the beginning of the twentieth century were the logical outcome of competition between European colonial powers to rob the rest of the world under the guise of ‘civilizing the natives’. The deaths of millions of their own folks in the wars, the guilt of enabling the Holocaust and the fear of communist revolution brought racist Europe to its senses – at least for a few decades. The United States however continued with its perverse idea of ‘Manifest Destiny’ and the desire to shape the world according to its own image – becoming in the process the world’s biggest colonial power.

It was only in the 1950s again, following a wave of  decolonisation, that countries of Asia and Africa started recovering slowly from the depredations they had suffered. As the newly independent countries framed policies to protect and nurture their domestic economies, invest in infrastructure and ensure development of local resources for public benefit, per capita incomes too grew more rapidly than in the previous two centuries.

While India has been a bit of a laggard with its share of global GDP today reaching just 7.7%, China’s share has zoomed to 17% and according to a recent report by Mckinsey Global Institute[ii] by 2040 Asia as a whole is set to top 50% of the world’s GDP. (The idea of an Asian nation dominating the global economy is too much to bear for Western racists and hence the repeated attempts by their leaders to attack China under one pretext or the other).

Despite China’s recent rise or before that of Japan, the fact remains that global wealth is still highly concentrated, mostly in the West. One estimate by Credit Suisse in 2018[iii] found that while the wealth of the average adult in the United States was  US$403,974 and US$144,903 for Europeans, in India it was US$7,024 and in Africa it was even lower, at just US$4,138.

These richer regions of the world, the biggest beneficiaries of colonialism historically,  obviously have a vested interest in maintaining the gap in wealth between them and other parts of the globe going. Their political leadership – led by the United States-  will do whatever it takes to achieve this – rigging the rules of global trade and finance, subverting developing country regimes that challenge them and of course go to war regularly (as they have in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria etc.) to show everyone who is still the boss.

And then there is the global set of billionaires, most of them owners of big corporations, who often operate outside the framework of nation states and  relentlessly mould the world’s policies to suit their interests.  They all follow in the bloody footsteps of the old East India Company, the world’s first multinational, which started with trade  but ended up with Empire,  ruling the entire Indian subcontinent for over a century.

A figure put out by Oxfam International[iv] showed how the billionaires of the world added a whopping US$900 billion to their combined wealth just in 2018 alone, an increase of US$2.5 billion every day of the year. Just one man, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, added US$24 billion to his wealth the same year. People like him have a big stake in ensuring the world remains pliable in ways that are extremely profitable also – democracy or civilized behaviour be damned.

While this is the picture of power and inequality at the global level, there is also great and growing disparity within countries, both in the West and the rest of the world. In the US for example the top 1 percent of households have more wealth than all the households in the bottom 90 percent combined[v]. In India, which has been among the top three unequal nations of the world for quite some time now, the richest 10% of Indians own 77.4% of the country’s wealth[vi].

In the Indian context inequality is also related to caste  and India’s upper caste households earned nearly 47% more than the national average annual household income in 2012. Within this group a mere 10% cornered over 60% of the wealth[vii].

Talking of caste, a phenomenon that combines aspects of class, culture, ethnicity, it turns out to be a useful way to understand what is happening  globally too. In the last 500 years a planetary hierarchy has emerged – that broadly resembles how the Indian caste system has traditionally operated  – whereby  wealth, knowledge, power is concentrated forever in the hands of a tiny elite.

In the global case this elite consists predominantly of white people in Western nations, who are the equivalent of the ‘twice-born’ Indian ‘savarnas’ (Somebody should formally put a sacred thread on Zuckerberg and Gates – the software Brahmins!).The yellow, brown, black populations of the planet are divided up into the ‘lesser’ castes, with the Africans being the global Dalits, while indigenous people everywhere in the world are exactly like India’s Adivasis – completely marginalized.

So why are the global shudras and Dalits not uniting to snatch power from the global savarnas? Well, that was what the anti-colonial and communist movements over a century ago were all about,  but somewhere along the way,  they have become divided among themselves – each lured by the prospects of joining the ‘white man’s club’ on their own.

As in the case of the Indian caste system, which Dr B.R.Ambedkar explained operated on the principles of ‘graded inequality’, every section of the globally oppressed – no matter what colour, race, nationality, is busy finding another section of even more oppressed people to exploit or lord over. Instead of mustering the courage to fight and overthrow their own oppressors, their idea is simply to overcome their unhappiness by ensuring there is someone else even more miserable!

So the white working class – angry at falling incomes and loss of jobs- rages against immigrants in the United States and Europe.  The Japanese are   jealously busy trying to keep China down, the two Koreas circle each other warily like estranged brothers, the Indians are locked in medieval battle against the Pakistanis,  while much of Africa is caught up in myriad rivalries. And everywhere (even Greenland and Antarctica) when there are no enemies to be found,  there is always the standard ‘Islamic terror’ to fight or Muslims to bash!.

In other words, a significant section of the globally disadvantaged – the sheep really – have fallen for the trap of internal division laid for them by the cunning butchers – who run the global farm we all live in. Given the powerful weapons of brainwashing and mass distraction that the rulers have this is only to be expected – but what every angry, squabbling sheep should realize is that, end of day, they are still destined only for the slaughterhouse.

For, just like at the beginning of the twentieth century, the global elites and their allies in different nations will not hesitate to unleash even genocide on the world population, to maintain their status at the top of the pile. In fact, it is not hard to imagine the rising rhetoric of hatred flashing on computer screens across the planet translating into blood on the streets very soon in the future.

What the sheep have to decide is whether they want to kill and cannibalize their own kind or fight to redistribute the world’s wealth more equitably, while roasting a few butchers, if need be. Think about the possibility –  some nice, hot and juicy butcher shish kebabs?

As the old slogan goes – the choice is ultimately between Socialism +Shish Kebab or Barbarism!

Satya Sagar isa journalist and public health worker who can be reached at sagarnama@gmail.com

 

[i]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_regions_by_past_GDP_(PPP)#Chinese_empires

[ii]https://www.livemint.com/news/india/asia-on-track-to-top-50-of-world-gdp-by-2040-report-1563161599794.html

[iii]Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report 2018

[iv]https://www.oxfam.org/en/even-it/5-shocking-facts-about-extreme-global-inequality-and-how-even-it-davos

[v]https://www.nber.org/papers/w24085.pdf

[vi]https://www.livemint.com/Money/iH2aBEUDpG06hM78diSSEJ/Richest-10-of-Indians-own-over-34th-of-wealth-in-India.html

[vii]https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/income-inequality-in-india-top-10-upper-caste-households-own-60-wealth-119011400105_1.html


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