I was challenged yesterday when a friend I was talking to about the pros and cons of capitalist world we live it (yes a very light topic for Saturday morning coffee!), said in a backward way that I wasn’t an idealist.
It has got me thinking. Helping Danielle Strickland and Campbell Roberts with their new book Just:Imagine over the summer, we came to a very clear conviction that we need to be dreamers of a better world for justice and equality to become a reality.
So my question is – can we be dreamers and idealists if we are capitalists too? I have to admit I enjoy the joys of my new little ipod and I enjoy the relief of antibiotics when I am sick. Both innovations driven by profit.
But for those of us working with people on the margins, we see the flaws, warts and wounds of the system we live in. We don’t need convincing that there is something terribly wrong.
The main argument that has been given to me is that the capitalist system inherently contains motivators for greed. But my question is- is it the capitalist system that is the problem or our flawed humanity? I think that even if we created another system, wouldn’t those same broken qualities simply rot it away?
So is it about imagining a new system? Or a better humanity? Does that question then shift our focus from the structure to the people as the starting point?
In the words of one of my heroes, Muhammad Yunus, “I support globalization and believe it can bring more benefits to the poor than its alternative. But it must be the right kind of globalization. To me, globalization is like a hundred-lane highway criss-crossing the world. If it is a free-for-all highway, its lanes will be taken over by the giant trucks from powerful economies. Bangladeshi rickshaw will be thrown off the highway. In order to have a win-win globalization we must have traffic rules, traffic police, and traffic authority for this global highway. Rule of "strongest takes it all" must be replaced by rules that ensure that the poorest have a place and piece of the action, without being elbowed out by the strong. Globalization must not become financial imperialism.”
For these rules to become a reality, people have to change too. We have to change. People power has to tell the market they demand fair trade, ethical business practices, laws that prevent people preying upon the vulnerable…
That's enough sunday rambles from me. Love to hear people's thoughts...
Til next time,