The Evolving Conscience
In Nepal, it was the exploitation by Rana and Shah dynasties, who so passionately welcomed aid from foreign donors that sapped the vitality of independent nation and robbed its self respect.
By Dr Sanjaya Gajurel
The rich/poor division harks back to the law of nature that everybody is born different. Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection propounded in 1859 is the element that has been driving this universe; linchpin process by which evolution takes place. In Darwin’s definition of natural selection, hard fact by which each slight variation, if useful, is preserved. Natural selection based on the heredity was accepted by Scientists only after the integration of Darwin’s contemporary Gregor Mendel's “law of inheritance” in the early 20th century. Modern evolutionary synthesis such as mutation all have origin in natural selection. Currently, with the discovery and inventions, inroads in science and technology, artificial selection has been practiced. Also, with the evolution of brain, and hence, the conscience, principally in human race, the weak or less privileged are not left to get engulfed by natural selection. The eminent figures such as Stephen Hawking would have been long gone prior to their contributions to the universe. Also, some species, which could have been extinct by natural selection, are being preserved. In the ancient times, lacking conscience due to ignorance, the physically stronger started dominating the weaker ones. As early as the sixth century BC (Roger Dunkle, The Classical Origin of Western Culture, The Core Studies I Study Guide, 1986), human nature was accepted as aggregate of man’s animalist inclination to aggression and domination by physical prowess. The Human law (nomos) was viewed as artificial constraint to the nature order of things created by debilitated member of society. The outlook was the philosophical basis of “the right of the stronger” built on the footing of animal as a model for the human; strong will always be victorious over and dominate the weak. So, there were two classes - poor weaker class dominated by rich stronger class. Now, let’s continue to track the evolution of poverty through the observation of anthropologist Lewis Morgan in “Ancient Societies, 1877”. Predicated on this foundation, Friedrich Engel, with a note of Karl Marx, wrote “The origin of the Family, Private Property and the State”.
According to Morgan, the earliest ideas of property were intimately associated with the procurement of subsistence such as weapons to hunt and kill wild animals, tools to create vessels to store, and later, to cook food, after the invention of fire. The worthless land was held in common until the concept of cultivation. Land was a communal property but right to cultivate become the private one (stronger domination). When the relationship became monogamous, the importance was placed on the family; survival of the immediate family became vital than the community. So, the concept of inheritance came into picture to preserve whatever possessed to be available for their kin. As communities grew and relationship became byzantine, distribution of property became more unequal and the private property that ensured the survival of the family became the birthright. Man realized that with the accumulation of private property more than necessary “wealth”, could bring easier and convenient life. Those who needed the resources from wealthy families were forced to pledge something in return: labor, servitude, or unequivocal agreement to return the same amount plus the interest. So, the wealthy skipped the labor. During famine and attack from warring tribe, quality tools and food in abundance, came to the rescue of that tribe. So, they seize the opportunity to declare themselves as authority to lead their tribe and, consequently, earliest form of government was created.
The tribal wars were a form of life. The tribes were motivated by accumulating more wealth by defeating and occupying the territory of other tribes. The victorious tribes assumed carte blanche and deprived the losing tribes of land and properties, thus creating the minorities - the poorest of the poor in the conflated tribal communities. So, this human desiring for more, created powerful colonies like Roman Empire, the autocratic form of government, that had large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean by 117 AD. British Empire was established in the late 16th and the beginning of the 17th centuries that occupied almost a quarter of the earth’s total land area by 1922. Subsequent to the demolition of British Empire, the greed in human resulted in World War I (1914-1918) and World War II (1939 - 1945).
The World War I (28 July, 1914 - 11 November, 1918) was the first major war where great powers, especially centered at Europe in the form of the Empires (German, Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, Russian, British, French, and Italy), fought to expand their imperialistic foreign policies. It was believed to have been incited by the assassination of then heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary by a Yugoslav nationalist. Initially, there were two opposing alliances: Triple Entente of the United Kingdom, France, and Russia, and triple alliances of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy. Within the week of escalation of war, major powers of the globe were embroiled in a World War. The flaunting of clout resulted in demolition of some of the great imperial powers: the German, Russian, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires. The attainment of some level of consciousness, enacted by the evolution, at least brought realization about crass killings and destructions. With the rapprochement of cease-fire initiated by Germans on November 11, 1918, declaring Allies as victorious, the official peace treaty was signed on 28 June, 1919 at Versailles, France (the Treaty of Versailles) that required Germany to accept responsibility and pay reparation. The “League of Nation” (the first international Organization opened with a mission of maintaining world peace) was formed to prevent another inhumane act (war). The breakup of Emperors resulted in European nationalism. The conflicting and contradicting treatise escalated displeasures between two parties, and the repercussion of Germany’s defeat hung in the air for a long time. Human mind, on the evolutionary stage, could not perceive the egalitarian human value: planet as a single nation and we as its occupants being responsible for making it a better place working hand in hand. So, the World War I led to the World War II.
The World War I was used as a lesson learned to bolster armies with economic, industrial and scientific capabilities for another war, World War II. Germany was not mollified or conciliated by the conflicting and contradicting treaty. The Germany was well tested for its military capabilities instead of being incapacitated. So, Germany initiated World War II on 1 September, 1939, with the invasion of Poland with subsequent declarations of war on Germany by France, some of the colonies of the British Empire, and the Commonwealth. Japan, at its culmination of development, nonetheless, had already been at war with China since 1937. So, Japan aiming to occupy Asia, attacked the United States and European possessions in the Pacific Ocean. The war ended in Europe ensuing with the capture of Berlin by Soviet Union and Polish troops which forced them to surrender on 8 May, 1945, whereas, it ended in Asia on 15 August, 1945 after Japanese Navy was defeated by the United States. The Soviet Union and the United States emerged as superpowers. Again human mind could not use its immense power in constructive way leading to rivalry between the two superpowers who fought together under Allies against Axis (Germany, Japan) resulting in Cold War: political and military tension between western world led by the United States and its NATO allies and the communist world, led my soviet union and its satellite states and allies, which lasted for the next 46 years. As in the World War I, another international organization, the United Nations (UN) was established to prevent future conflicts through signed armistices. So, the human mind is in the pursuit of perfection to create a improved cosmos with the mantra like “We are a single family living under the same roof” disregarding biases anent sex, race, religion, nationality, and other that are stigmas to human race. We have already started seeing altruistic activities acting as an omen for redefining universe as a single country with its inhabitants as citizens of the world.
After the sovereignty, the fundamental cause of poverty in the third world countries is the economic, political, social obstacles that the government (comprising of venal politicians and officials) has spread out. In Nepal, it was the exploitation by Rana and Shah dynasties, who so passionately welcomed aid from foreign donors that sapped the vitality of independent nation and robbed its self respect. On top of that, the aid ended up in venal politician’s pocket or Swiss bank accounts. So, the aid does not eradicate poverty of the country; the technologies and tools, however, contribute to sustainable wherewithal to alleviate poverty. The role of the politicians to get citizens out of poverty despite possessing bountiful resources can be illustrated through South Africa, which is the world’s richest continent in terms of natural resources. According to Dr. Walter E. Williams, Africa has 50% of earth’s gold, most of the world’s diamond and chromium, 90% cobalt, 40% of planet’s hydropower potential, 65% of Manganese, millions of acres of untilled farmland as well as other natural resources. Still, Africa is the home to the planet’s most impoverished and abused people.
The influential theories regarding society, economics, and politics called Marxism, was developed by a German Karl Heinrich Marx in 1843. Marxism holds that all societies pave the way through the dialectic of class struggle: a conflict between an ownership class which controls production and a lower class which produces the labor for such goods. Marx divided history into several stages conforming to pattern in the economic structure of society, the most important stages being feudalism, capitalism and Socialism. Marx believed in the self-destruction of economic stages based on exploitation economic arrangements. According to him, feudalism in which landowners exploited the peasants, gave rise to class of town-dwelling merchants, whose motivation to making profits in expense of workers, resulted in modern capitalism.
The central institution of capitalist society is the private property controlled by a small minority of the population. The bourgeois class owns the capital and the proletariat class provides their labor hours as their property to the owners. The owners are seen making huge emolument by paying workers less than what they deserve and exploiting them. This ultimately results in Socialist society, a society governed by the working class, which in turn will be replaced by a communism, a stateless and a classless society. Marx’s capitalist theory has been heavily back lashed by capitalist. Marx ideas have been applied and re-interpreted by scholars for over a hundred year starting with Marx’s German contemporary and collaborator, Friedrich Engel and later by others such as Vladimir I. Lenin, the leader of the Russian revolution and influential contributor of Marxist theory.
According to the capitalist, open-market capital society provides freedom to the entrepreneurs to employ for more productivity which opens the door of opportunity for poor to get rich by making the basic tools (technology) accessible and affordable to them besides raising their living standard through investing on ratcheting productivity. For example, the profusion of Internet makes it cost-effective to be deployed in public places like library, bookstore, coffee and fast-food restaurants, so, anybody can mobilize them as a tool. Though the gap betwixt rich and poor is getting wider, both the levels are rising at higher rates than before i.e. large number of poor are getting above the poverty line. According to UNDP (United Nation Development Program) 1997 report, over the past 50 years, the world has made inroads in eradicating poverty than during the previous 500 years. The development of conscience in today’s people, more donations, and voluntary works are being carried out worldwide, targeting developing countries, to administer the sustainable programs to assuage poverty. For example, introduction of gas oven that uses animals dung as a fuel in Nepali villages. People have also realized that poverty is the main cause of violence and terrorism and is not inevitable. Some people might give to charity with the motives of getting tax deductions but still provision for deductions on donations is already the great move.
(Gajurel, a Ph.D. in computer engineering from Case Western Reserve University, USA, works as Computational Scientist at the same university. Email: email@example.com)
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