Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Capitalist Jungle

Christopher McDougall told us the story of the lion and the gazelle in the African jungle.  Both the lion and the gazelle have to outrun the other in order to survive.  Unless the lion runs faster than the gazelle, it will starve to death.  Unless the gazelle outruns the lion, it will become the latter’s food.

That is also the policy of capitalism.  The richest one percent of India’s population own 58% of the country’s total wealth, says Oxfam’s latest report.  In plain figures, just 57 Indians own as much wealth as about 875,000,000 other Indians.  India is a jungle of lions and gazelles where the latter may die under the wheels of Land Cruisers driven by the former while they sleep huddled together on the footpaths after the weary day in a sweatshop.

There’s much wealth in India.  But the majority of people are poor.  You will find this majority sleeping on the footpaths if you take a walk in the cities at night.  You will see them struggling to earn a livelihood working in subhuman conditions.  You will find them using the railway tracks as their toilets though they may have a mobile phone in hand by which they may be arranging the day’s work as you pass them by in the train on the other track. 

Capitalism is about wealth creation at any cost.  At the cost of your fellow human beings.  At the cost of environment.  At the cost of anything.  Is that really different from the law of the jungle?

Capitalism is about winning.  We are all born to win, tell the gurus paid for by capitalists.  The gurus are also lions who feed on the gullible gazelles. 

Going by the theory of evolution, capitalism and the gurus are both right.  There is no equality among human beings if we look from the viewpoint of evolution.  We are all differently abled.  [That euphemism comes in handy here.]  Some are abler than others in various ways.  Equality is an ideological construct.  It is a concept we created in order to promote the welfare of all the members of the species in spite of the weaknesses and liabilities of certain sections or individual members.  It means that every member of the species has an equal right to certain things like legal protection, food and water, shelter, and so on. 

Capitalism, however, denies that idea.  It says that you compete for whatever is available there.  You compete for the 4G spectrum, for example.  There is an auction and the highest bidder gets it. 

Rights to belong to the highest bidder in capitalism.  The highest bidder can monopolise anything in such a system.  Even drinking water.  Even the air we breathe.  Those who cannot bid for clean air and clean water can suffocate to death, die of thirst.  Or die slowly breathing the polluted air and drinking the contaminated water.

Won’t there be a problem in the future then?  Can the lions survive without the gazelles?  Will the lions start eating one another once the gazelles become extinct?  Well, monopoly is about swallowing the same kind, isn’t it?  In the jungle, however, the animals don’t stoop so low.  Usually.


  1. Yup! The war cry is: "Ünleash The Animal Spirits."

  2. Yet there are more takers for capitalism and not socialism.

    1. The dominant system is always more attractive apparently. Moreover, capitalism is individualistic and we live in an individualistic world. Thirdly, socialism failed wherever it was tried out except maybe in some small countries in Latin America where the achievements are not much to boast about.

      Socialism can succeed only when people accept certain humanitarian values.


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