Material World – Emptying the ocean with a teaspoon
We learn from the Guardian about a food programme aimed at primary school children in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. Seventeen percent of the Kenyan population, over nine million people, live in extreme poverty (worldpoverty.io/map ).
From the article: ‘According to Save The Children, 26% of children in Kenya are living with stunted growth due to malnutrition’ (tinyurl.com/w949dmee).
A Kenyan ‘not for profit’ organisation involved in helping to provide four hundred thousand meals a day to 225 primary schools and young child development centres in Nairobi states, on its website, the obvious truth that hungry children cannot learn properly and can’t grow healthily.
Their solution? To improve educational outcomes through the provision of nutritious food.
This Kenyan charity is to be commended, within limits, in concentrating on the single aim of feeding hungry children. Many charities express their aims, or visions, as being bringing about positive changes but none of them involve the replacement of capitalism. The legendary Greek hero, Hercules, was tasked with twelve ‘impossible’ labours. The task of cleaning out the Augean stables would seem the most relevant one to that of ‘cleaning up post-capitalism’. Not an impossible undertaking as there will millions of people across the world involved in accomplishing that.
In contrast to the Kenyan charity, Lankelly Chase with £130 million in assets is planning on divesting itself of that amount because the people who run it are having a crisis of conscience. The organisation gives £13 million a year toward ‘hundreds of charities operating in areas such as social, racial and climate justice’.
They claim: ‘We will make space to reimagine how wealth, capital and social justice can co-exist in the service of all life, now and for future generations’ (tinyurl.com/4ramn7wf). Is that ‘wealth’ as used by Adam Smith, national income? By ‘capital’ do they mean the asset-owning class, the minority who continue to exploit the majority?
What’s this organisation’s aim, is it to persuade the former class to be nicer all round and give out a few more bob from their ill-gotten gains? Will a promise be made in return to persuade the rest of us not to instigate a revolution?
The term ‘jam tomorrow’ comes to mind. At the present time a vast number of people can’t even afford margarine.
Stockholm Syndrome is a psychological condition – over time those held captive by a group or individuals begin to identify with the purpose of their captors. Capitalism would appear to have successfully indoctrinated many into that frame of mind.
Would it be stretching a point to infer the same of recipients of charity? Whether being fed in Africa or being given food parcels in a rich economy where social ills should be better able to be alleviated, there is a sense of ‘thank goodness for X because I don’t know how I would manage if it wasn’t for so and so’.
To quote Dylan Thomas, the response should not be one of grateful subservience but one of ‘Do not go gentle into that good night / Rage, rage against the dying of the light’.
Some might argue that given the ongoing present conditions, not just in the UK, but across the world of devastating rises in the cost of food, housing and many other commodities, charities are more welcome than ever before.
There are people who now find themselves dependent upon charity when that wasn’t previously necessary. Whilst capitalism exists the moral dilemma of those who find they have no option but to accept such largesse, providing they don’t fall into the category of the ‘undeserving poor’, is conditioned by the instinct of survival irrespective of the sources from whence it comes. However, that doesn’t mean being grateful, being appreciative, being thankful or singing the praises of charities necessarily.
Those Stockholm Syndrome devotees of religious fairytales may point to the biblical comment that the poor are always with us. Ergo, it’s an insoluble problem. One religion demands that once personal wealth goes above a certain amount then two and a half percent of it must be paid toward charitable relief of the poor and the orphans. With the number of adherents it has, that must work out to a very tidy sum every year. Given how long it must have been collecting, has it achieved a successful resolution of the problem? Answers on a postcard.
Lankelly Chase tell us, ‘We are striving for a world healed by justice, equity and inclusion by challenging existing systems and creating the conditions for much healthier systems to emerge.’
Oh dear. Not to doubt the sincerity of those running this charity but the naivety is unbelievable. Our refusal to endorse charities being taken as read in this case, one cannot help thinking that the £130m might do more good if transferred to those providing meals for hungry children in Africa.
But when that money was used up, what then? Would the number of people living in extreme poverty be reduced? Would children stop going hungry?
Perhaps the millions might be donated to the Socialist Party, if legal, which entity, be assured, would put it to very good use in accelerating the ‘conditions for much healthier systems to emerge’. Only one emergent system is necessary. Alternatively, if they would like advice as to how to participate in the aim of replacing capitalism with socialism it will be immediately forthcoming.
Socialism, you know it makes sense!