How to achieve economic freedom In developing countries

developing, capitalistIN examining the capitalist system, therefore, it is important that we should, as briefly as possible, consider its virtues and achievements as well as its basic postulates and vices. This procedure is essential in order that its claim per se, and relative to that of the socialist system, which will be considered later, may be justly assessed.

Before the advent of capitalism, slavery and serfdom were the order of the day. But it is on record that it was the capitalists, not the poor, impotent, miserable slaves and serfs, who, at different epochs, struck the blow which shattered feudalism and manumitted the slaves.

In the Middle Ages, some of the prouncements of science were regarded as heretical. But since the advent of capitalism, science and technology have been sedulously encouraged, and research has been generously endowed. Indeed, from the latter part of the eighteenth century when, with the birth of the industrial revolution, capitalism truly and confidently came into its own, it has swept and carried practically everything before it. It has given unparalleled impetus to science, technology and art. It has built new cities and beautified old ones. Its conquest of time and space is almost complete, and all mankind of all climes and tongues are now onc another’s neighbours. It has modernised the tools of production as well as the means of locomotion. In the process, it has internationalised industry and commerce. It has reduced and weakened the strongholds of ignorance, disease and poverty. It has made the rich richer; and the poor better off than they ever had been.

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At the overthrow of feudalism and the abolition of slavery, it placed emphasis on freedom of enterprise and of choice, and proclaimed the doctrine of laissez-faire. Under the steam of this doctrine, it advocated and introduced free trade among nations. In the inevitable struggle which ensued, among the then advanced nations, for wider markets and for abundant sources of raw materials, the countries of Africa and Asia became areas of colonisation, or imperialistic spheres of influence. Africa was divided; British rule in India was extended and strengthened; and both China and Japan were compelled to enter into business relations with and for the benefit of Britain and America.

Wherever it was necessary to wage war in order to impose business intercourse on any country, it was done without qualm of conscience. For instance, the Opium War was fought in China in the years 1840-42 in order to compel China to buy opium. The great Indian poet, Rabindranath Tagore, incisively described the opium trade as ‘Death Traffic in China.’

I n the process of all these, the backward areas of the world were blessed with a new era of comparative peace and efficient administration. Their goods and resources were valorised. They received new enlightenment, and developed new aspirations. Such of the countries as were quick in the uptake, like Japan, made a tremendous leap forward. In 1868, three years after the United States, Britain, France and Holland had imposed trading intercourse on Japan, Meiji, Emperor of Japan, made a declaration which all underdeveloped countries must write in their hearts he said: ‘Knowledge shall be sought throughout the world, so that the welfare of the empire shall be promoted.’ On the spur of this declaration, Japan rose, in the words ofH.o. Wells, from ‘a fantastic caricature of the extrernest romantic feudalism’ in 1868, to be same’ level with the most advanced European powers’, in 1899. Other countries, which were not so resourceful and which did not pursue education with the same consuming fervour as Japan, have also benefited, but to a lesser extent, from their subservience to capitalist adventures.

So much for the achievements of the capitalist system. Let us now turn to the vices of the system.

As I have said before, the postulates of the capitalist system are false and untenable.

An examination of some of the causes of private property will reveal that it is unjust to recognise the right of the individual to private property without qualification.

Land is the gift of Nature, and was never at any time appropriated by Nature herself to any individual or family. Ab initio. the possession of land by a family or individual is the result of either forcible seizure or illegal and unauthorised appropriation.



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