Social change label (Photo credit: Aleksi Aaltonen)
I have spent the past few years focusing much of my energy on trying to understand who is at fault for the economic oppression that is perpetrated on the impoverished in this country and the world. The economic crash has only fueled the fire, and although many times I have felt hopeless in my attempts at finding an answer I have continued. I have pointed fingers at many global leaders, politicians, corporations, and others, but still feel as though in my heart I have not resolved anything. I feel like many people feel, as if somehow I have been swindled but can’t quite figure out by who or how, as if arriving home we are met with the harsh reality of being robbed. The Occupy movement has catapulted the notion of the 99% into the global consciousness. The idea is that 1% of the population controls the majority of the worlds wealth, while the other 99% of us are left fighting for their scraps. This of course is not a new idea, Karl Marx dealt with this in his communist manifesto, but it is still an idea which is attempting to place focus upon an economic imbalance amongst the global population that has far reaching effects. The problem I see with the approach of Marx is that the only way out of our economic dilemma is for the proletariat to overcome their servitude to the bourgeoisie by uprising against the controllers. The problem that comes from this idea, is that it only gives responsibility to the proletariat to right the wrong while simultaneously objectifying the bourgeoisie. So with this approach, the bourgeoisie become a faceless catalyst for change a sort of anti-hero for the proletariat. Unfortunately the world is multi-faceted and not two dimensional and this requires the action of all players to help make a change.
Corporations, governments, etc. are not merely automatons following a specified program, but rather are a social network of moral individuals cohesively working towards a projected goal. This means that each individual plays an integral role in the moral choices of that entity. The problem with labeling these dominant groups i.e. bourgeoisie, the man, the 1%, etc. is that we remove the guilt from the actions of each individual involved. It becomes a mask which hides the identities of those that are perpetuating the problem. The problem truly lies in the makeup of the system which has been devised by greedy individuals, and once the system is in motion it takes those within as well as outside the system to make a conscious effort to change it for the better. Power unchecked whether it be political or economic leads to despotism, and whether it is a economic or political despotism the outcome is still the same- Social inequality, cronyism, injustice, etc.
We can see economic oppression all over the world, and much of what we see stems from first world nations oppressing third world nations and draining them of natural resources while demanding cheap labor and a tight lip. To explain in simple terms how this relationship works, the first world executes a sort of financial takeover of a country rich in natural resources through numerous efforts. One of the ways is through lending financial resources to the neighboring country on interest. The interest rate of course is such, that the borrowing nation will be reduced to a state of perpetual debt. In return for first world kindness the newly third world nation becomes an indentured servant to the dominant nation. The first world nation then utilizes the countries resources for the consumption of luxury goods; coffee, sugar, tobacco, diamonds, ipads, televisions, and the list goes on and on. The first world then sells back these goods to the third world at an inflated price. So the goods that they produce, they are forced to purchase at a higher price then what is given to their overlords while simultaneously earning substandard wages. With this sort of system in place, we can see how it is nearly impossible for the third world nations to rise above the status quo. This economic warfare model is not isolated to first and third world nations, but also permeates every facet of the world economy. This is why Foxconn workers spend all of their daylight hours slaving over iPads much like the one I am typing this post on, to be made as an inexpensive luxury item for us to enjoy and for them to never see and experience. But it is also arrogant for us to believe that somehow we are not caught in the same rat race here as well. All of us are fighting for scraps, and the wealthy continue to consolidate their wealth, while we pay the bill.
All of us have a role to play in the beautification of our society; some of us are protesters, some are spectators, some fight, while some are meant to stand witness. All of us now have the ability to witness injustice as it is happening in real time and we also have a voice, this voice carries a lot of weight, more than it ever has in history. With this voice, comes a responsibility to our fellow men and women. If there is injustice we must bear witness and use our voice to spread the word and in turn shine a light on the cockroaches that are perpetuating the injustices. All of us deserve the chance to have a better life. Our voice must be the catalyst for social change and that better life and those in power become merely our tools for that change. We the 99% become the writers of the program and the 1% become our tools to execute that which we have written. The change must come from all of us, not just one side, but both. We can no longer be non-active participants in the global society. Instead of being merely consumers we must also be producers of positive social change. We must all hold each other accountable for how we treat one another and not hide behind the mask of a corporation, government, etc. In a world that is increasingly less and less private, we must require the same transparency that the controllers ask of us. Raise our voice and shine our light for social justice and equality. Let us become the change that we long for, let reality be an unfolding of our greatest hopes and ideas, and let us become our greater self.
Follow Justin on twitter @justin_blush & @waxpod