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Today's capitalism has run its course

By Bashir Goth - posted Thursday, 2 October 2008


As the free market economy makes a free fall, all kinds of prescriptions will come to mind, including socialism. A Somali proverb says: "Nin buka boql u talisay" (a sick man gets 100 advisers). Socialist-minded gurus and those who feel left behind by capitalism's unprecedented generation of wealth may need to shout "gotcha", but one thing that could be unanimously agreed by at least uninitiated armchair observers like me is that capitalism in its current free reign and globalised fit for all structure has run its course. Just like we need and preach biodiversity in the field of ecology we need eco-diversity in the economic world.

The Scandinavian countries have for many years practiced a blend of popular socialism and capitalism and as a result they have attained educational excellence, economic prosperity and guaranteed government healthcare for every citizen.

In many of the developing economies and the Third World, the public sector played a major role in cushioning the poor sectors from economic hardships. But since the explosion of information technology, the emergence of the Internet, the dot.com bubble trading, the behemoth multinational companies that swallow everything in their path, and the hurricane speculative market that pops up money like a pop corn machine, every country in the world has been hard pressed to toe the line and accept global standards of American free trade - including the privatisation of public institutions that provided a semblance of security to the local masses and enabled governments to maintain some sort of peace and stability.

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Globalisation demanded uniformity in free markets and exported the concepts of ultra-modern Wild West-style banking systems, hedge funds, dubious corporate debt rating companies, putative mortgage systems and layers on layers of "Après moi le deluge" mobile companies, which have taken over the world.

The public sector, government ownership and centralised regulations have become stigmatised as relics from the past. In the wake of the craze for privatisation, millions of people have lost their livelihoods in many countries of the world. The American dream of striking it big has arrived at the doorsteps of every person in the world.

But as happens in every gold rush, only a few lucky ones managed to strike wealth, while the rest of the populace found itself sinking into debt in the endless greed for consumerism: it has resulted in not only today's financial crisis but is evident in the contaminated milk that has endangered the life of children around the world.

As the world has become so interlocked and investment seeking money jumped from one place to another, no one seems to have heeded the writing on the wall: the Asian financial crisis; the dot.com bust; the collapse of central governments in many Third World countries pushing multitudes of economic immigrants to the coasts of rich nations; the root cause of terrorism; the Enron collapse and even the most recent surge of oil and grain prices worldwide.

Ignoring such warnings and doped by the illusionary trend of whiz kids-turned-millionaires overnight by improvising virtual gizmos, the elites and politicians of the capitalist world decided to shift the blame to global warming and ecological disasters caused by Arab oil, African cows, poor Asian and Latin American farmers and loggers.

Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya's independence leader, is said to have remarked that the white man came to Africa with a gospel in his hand to show the Africans the God that dwelled in the heavens; and while the Africans were searching for God in the sky, the white man robbed their land. In the same way it seems that leaders of the capitalist world entertained their citizens and the entire world population by extrapolating the menace of climate change while hiding the deluge coming to rob them of their homes and hard earned pensions.

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Once disaster hit and the scandal became public, it seemed obvious that climate issues would take the backseat for quite some time. The priority now shifts to this more disastrous man-made financial global overheating.

It is obvious that the American financial vortex will suck in the entire economy of the world if quick remedial steps are not taken. But apart from the proposed bailouts, it is vital that the current capitalism system should change course. Instead of propping up the pillars of an ageing system, the world should come up with radical economic reforms based on holistic views and diversified structures instead of the current orthodox uniformity.

We need an economy that respects other people's time-tested financial institutions and doesn't shun Third World money transfer companies as bogus and Arab sovereigns funds as carpet baggers. It is these kinds of foreign funds that can come to the rescue of the cash strapped American economy.

The current man-made financial crisis heralds a new age for the capitalist system; it signify a precipice of a great change. And it must be clear to all by now that any system that doesn't value the economic welfare of every individual and not only the wealthy few will be doomed to the same destiny.

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About the Author

Bashir Goth is a Somali poet, journalist, professional translator, freelance writer and the first Somali blogger. Bashir is the author of numerous cultural, religious and political articles and advocate of community-development projects, particularly in the fields of education and culture. He is also a social activist and staunch supporter of women’s rights. He is currently working as an editor in a reputable corporation in the UAE. You can find his blog here.

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