By PAT WATSON
The Occupy movement is still on the move. Government authorities in various jurisdictions may have taken down the tents and shut down the camps, but the movements are not those tents and camps. The Occupy movements are the people with the ideas and the understanding that the current paradigm of globalization and capitalism that sees the distribution of wealth skewed so that fewer and fewer can enjoy a decent livelihood and lifestyle is not working.
It’s this simple: If the mass of people don’t have the money to buy the goods that are being produced by these billionaire owners of the means of production, then everyone loses.
That is why Occupiers set up Camp Igloo in Davos, Switzerland this week. Occupiers are there to make sure the billionaires, capitalist powerbrokers and politicians meeting there keep inequality front of mind.
Since no one wants to look like the bad guy, the men meeting in Davos will at least pay lip service to finding a way to bring equality to all in a capitalist system. But change has to be more than sentiments, and we can be sure that it is not going to come from those billionaires, no matter how much they express sympathy for the ’99 per cent’.
Here is the real core of the problem: The business of making the acquisition of more and more money the new god is really what is at the heart of this growing inequality. This is the sickness destroying communities, cities and countries. And until we understand it as the social, psychological disease that it is, we will not be able to solve it.
We will see it as an economic problem. And we will look for economic solutions. When a person has an addiction to food, we don’t take away his money so that he can’t buy food. We ask what is it that is really eating him so that he has to try to dull his pain with food. When a person has a gambling addiction, we don’t take away his money so that he can no longer gamble. We ask what is missing from his life that he is using gambling to try to replace.
There is a reason that the very first of the “Ten Commandments” is “You shall have no other gods before me“. Sadly, that is exactly what we have done. This is not a religious sermon, but rather the point that we have forfeited our humanity for the love of money; actually, more than a love, an obsession.
There may be healthy obsessions out there in the world, but clearly, a system that rewards shareholders at the expense of workers – people who just want to make a decent wage to provide for their families – is a recipe for human disaster.
It is why Haiti is a failed state. It is why Somalia is a failed state. And the idea that China will be the next capitalist salvation is another piece of obsessive thinking in the pursuit of more and more money.
Let’s see it for what it is. Let’s be honest about what we would consider a good life. We all want a nice home, or at least the assurance of a safe and comfortable place to sleep at night. We want to have good health care when we need it, and not healthcare that discriminates. We want to have access to education and to be respected for the work we do.
These are reasonable wants. But how many people will say that what they truly want is to have a healthy respect for humanity – theirs and everyone else’s? That is where the paradigm shift has to be based. That, I believe, is what the Occupiers are really saying. It is time to base our world system, not on the dollar, but on our shared humanity.
History has shown that this has yet to be tried. So, this week’s meeting of billionaires in Davos talking ‘inequality’ provides no genuine surprises.
A note on this mild winter…
Enjoy the balmy spring-like temperatures while they last because, as the dead of winter approaches, we are headed for the real winter 2012, the kind that will have many of us dreaming of going back home if only for a few short, but sunny days. But what will the groundhog say?