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Two specters are haunting the Third World—the specter of massive poverty and the specter of vast income inequality. All the forces of the unjust social (dis)order—First World capitalists and their Third World partners, reactionary landlords, media moguls, undemocratic politicians—have entered into an unholy alliance to let these specters remain unchanged. Guided by Marxism and dependency theory, this article will provide evidence on the existence of the specter of Third World poverty and income inequality, and hence prove that Karl Marx was right in calling for the transformation of the global economic system. Ideas from manifestos of social movements to literary texts, news reports and researches, United Nations (UN) Human Development Report data, and papal encyclicals will be utilized and synthesized to present out-of-the-box approaches to resolve poverty and income inequality. Taking cue from Terry Eagleton’s eloquent defense of Marxism, this article asserts that a new world order is necessary and only a Marxistic critique and action plan can genuinely save the Third World from the current global crises of poverty and income inequality.
Why Marx Was Right: Third World Edition
David Michael M. San Juan
De La Salle University, Manila
Note: The final, definitive version of this paper has been published in Journal of Developing Societies,
Vol. 33/Issue 1, May 2017 (online); March 2017 (print) by SAGE Publications India Pvt Ltd, All rights
reserved. © [SAGE Publications India Pvt Ltd.] The said final, definitive version is now publicly
available at at no cost. The
author has uploaded this Version 2, to optimize the articles visibility online. This upload is authorized
by p.4 of the Journal Contributors Publishing Agreement signed by the author and the journal editor
in 2016.
Two specters are haunting the Third World the specter of massive poverty and the
specter of vast income inequality. All the forces of the unjust social (dis)order First World
capitalists and their Third World partners, reactionary landlords, media moguls, undemocratic
politicians have entered into an unholy alliance to let these specters remain unchanged. Guided
by Marxism and Dependency Theory, this paper will provide evidence on the existence of the
specter of Third World poverty and income inequality, and hence prove that Karl Marx was right
in calling for the transformation of the global economic system. Ideas from manifestos of social
movements to literary texts, news reports and researches, United Nations (UN) Human
Development Report data and papal encyclicals, will be utilized and synthesized to present out-
of-the-box approaches to resolving poverty and income inequality. Taking cue from Terry
Eagleton’s eloquent defense of Marxism, this paper asserts that a new world order is necessary
and only a Marxistic critique and action plan can genuinely save the Third World from the
current global crises of poverty and income inequality.
Keywords: Marxism, development studies, Third World, Dependency Theory, capitalism,
“Another world is not only possible; she’s on the way and, on a quiet day,
if you listen very carefully you can hear her breathe.”
- Arundhati Roy
Two specters are haunting the Third World the specter of massive poverty and the
specter of wide income inequality that seem to justify the outright rejection of capitalism that
sired these evil monsters, and the consequential exploration of Marxist or Marxistic schemes to
make the world a better place. All the forces of the unjust social (dis)order First World
capitalists and their Third World partners, reactionary landlords, greedy corporations, media
moguls, undemocratic politicians have entered into an unholy alliance to let these specters
remain unchanged. Hence, as the masses are still starving and enslaved, there’s a compelling
need to make a clean slate,” as a good old song
says, to create a new world “from the ashes of
the oldas another song
hopes, or in other words, a war to end all wars.
No wonder, more than 120 years after the socialist anthem “L’Internationale” (“The
Internationale”) was publicly performed for the first time by the choir of the French Workers'
Party, socialists, communists, anarchists, peasants, labor unionists, human rights advocates,
students, and guerrillas still sing it in the streets, in schools, in factories, in theaters, in the fields,
in mountain lairs, in torch-lighted darkness or out in the open, and even in churches
. The song’s
lyrics was composed by Eugène Pottier, a member of the ill-fated Paris Commune
, more than
140 years ago, but its message of hope remains relevant and ever-inspiring to those seeking a
world without war, hunger, income inequality and other social ills brought by man’s exploitation
of his fellow men. “L’Internationale” is a nice musical summation of the revolutionary pamphlet
“L’Internationale” or “The Internationale,” the international anthem of socialists, communists, anarchists etc.
The American labor song “Solidarity Forever.”
The unusual playing of “L’Internationale” in a church in Norway (2009) can be accessed here:
Considered by radicals as the first worker-led government though a short-lived one the Paris Commune was
formed in 1871, predating the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) which was established after the 1917
socialist revolution in Russia.
Manifesto of the Communist Party(more popularly known as “The Communist Manifesto”),
written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, which millions of people still read today because of
its core idea’s enduring relevance in a world where capitalism seems to implode through
unresolved and ever-deepening crises in capitalist countries such as the United States, Greece,
Italy, Portugal, Spain, Cyprus and the like. “La lutte finale,” “La lucha final,” the final struggle
is yet to be won but dreamers around the world, shout ¡Otro mundo es posible! (Another world is
possible!) ¡Venceremos! (We shall overcome!) ¡Hasta la victoria siempre! (Until victory,
always!), signalling the seeming inevitability of the people’s victory against their oppressors and
It is thus not surprising that a First World intellectual, Professor Terry Eagleton, was
moved enough by the enduring call of the times to write an eloquent defense of Marxism in 2011
the hit book “Why Marx Was Right” which basically encourages thinkers and common folks
around the world to revive Marxism by using it not only as a framework for discussing
capitalism’s failure but more importantly, to reimagine and actually build a better world. While
Eagleton’s Marxist apologia is laudable, it somehow lacks ample discussion on pressing
contemporary concerns of the Third World, a region where Marxist and Marxistic ideas proved
to be resilient as they coherently provide commonsensical explanations on the roots and effects
of, and solutions to the global plague called capitalism. Eagleton mentioned the term “Third
World” only thrice in his 258-page book. Taking cue from Eagleton’s treatise, this paper asserts
that a new world order is indeed necessary and possible, and only a Marxistic critique and action
plan can genuinely save the Third World (and even the First World) from the current global
crises of poverty and income inequality that fuel the peoples’ struggles for social emancipation.
Third World Poverty: The Monstrous Dinosaur That Nobody Really Cares About
To prove that another world is necessary, it is mandatory to present hard evidence that
widespread poverty still exists in the Third World which most neoliberals euphemistically label
as the developing world.
In his 2013 New Year’s Day homily, then Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged the
existence of “hotbeds of tension and conflict caused by growing instances of inequality between
rich and poor, by the prevalence of a selfish and individualistic mindset which also finds
expression in an unregulated financial capitalism…” His remark was of course grounded on
reality as proven by data from the 2013 United Nations’ Human Development Report (HDR).
The graph below reproduced from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) website
vividly shows the extent of social inequality between nations in terms of progress in the Human
Development Index score, which ranges from 1.0 (the perfect score that connotes excellent
human development in health, education and income) to 0.0, with Norway as the most developed
country and Niger as the least-developed one:
Meanwhile, here’s the poverty headcount ratio in the Third World according to the World
Bank database:
Undernourished citizens desperately poor people are also very numerous according to
data from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO):
Aside from the traditional statistical evidence on Third World poverty, non-traditional
measures of poverty can be also cited to prove the fact that there’s widespread poverty in the
Global South. For example, Lubin (2012) cited a report from Fondation Scelles, a French-based
anti-prostitution non-government organization (NGO), pegging the number of prostitutes in the
world from 40 to 42 million, majority of whom come from impoverished or developing
The less desperate Third World folks have other options such as becoming cogs of the
exploitative capitalist system in First World countries, where the wages are relatively higher.
Quoting statistics from the World Bank's Migration and Remittances Factbook 2011, the
International Organization for Migration (IOM) says that out of the $440 billion estimated
remittances sent by migrants in 2010, $325 billion was sent by migrants to developing countries.
This proves that currently, most migrants still come from Third World countries where work
opportunities are either scarce and/or financially unrewarding.
Horror Stories of Capitalism: Suicides, “Garbage Chicken” and “Mud Cakes
Documented horror stories about desperate poor people in the Third World doing really
unexpected things like eating garbage or mud, or worse, committing suicide to complement the
boring statistics presented above are plenty. Just this March 15, the Philippine Daily Inquirer
reported that Kristel Tejada, a first year student at the University of the Philippines (UP)-Manila
“...took her own life two days after she was forced to put her studies on hold because she could
not pay the tuition” (Carvajal, 2013). On the next day, the Philippine president gleefully graced
the opening of the $1.2-billion Solaire Casino Resort and Casino, “kicking off the Philippines’
high stakes bid to join the world’s elite gaming destinations of Macau and Las Vegas”
(Philippine Daily Inquirer, 2013). This was just months after the same newspaper reported about
“six consecutive years of growth” of Mitsubishi-Philippines, “record sales” in 2012 of Ford-
Philippines, and 2012 as the “best year ever in the Philippines” for Toyota Motor Philippines
(Philippine Daily Inquirer, 2012 and 2013). Most ironically, weeks before Tejada’s poverty-
driven suicide,
the Philippine Star reported that “(t)he number of Filipino billionaires grew to
11 in 2013 from 5 in 2012, controlling a whopping 39.85 billion-dollar wealth in a country
where 20.9 to 26.9% of families are officially poor (Virola, 2011).
Of course, despite their desperation, a number of Filipinos still choose to survive so as to
live. Hence, even when they don’t have money for food, they miraculously survive by eating
left-over food (called“pagpag” in Filipino) literally taken from trash bins. This has been
documented by Ferdinand Dimadura’s award-winning short film “Chicken A La Carte”
A copy of the said short film was uploaded at YouTube in 2009 and as of this writing, it has
garnered close to 260,000 views already, on top of some subtitled editions that have been posted
by various users from around the world. In 2012, Kyung Lah of CNN published a report
claiming that “(g)arbage chicken” is a grim staple for Manila's poor.” Filipinos are not alone in
having strange meals just to survive. In Haitian slums, cakes made from mud are staple diet
(Adams, 2010). This happens despite the fact that “(a)lmost half of the world's foodis thrown
away,” an amount “equivalent to 2 billion tonnesannually, partly due to “...Western consumer
demand for cosmetically perfect food...” (Smithers, 2013).
Most Filipino activists insist it’s a “murder” perpetrated by the Philippine government’s failure to provide
accessible education to the poor, a failure mirrored by other Third and even First World countries today.
Available at
The abovementioned data is enough to assert that there’s massive poverty in the Third
World even after (or more precisely because) policymakers and much of the developing world’s
intelligentsia consistently rammed neoliberal capitalism down the throats of Third World
citizens, in the past decades. Their “development model” has failed in the First and Third
Worlds. A “paradigm shift” is thus necessary. Unfortunately, it seems people, more especially
those who belong to high- and middle-income groups seem not to care much about these
shocking poverty statistics. It seems poverty statistics in this world have become a monstrous
dinosaur which no one notices: it is there but no one cares about it anymore. Income inequality
between nations and within nations makes the global situation all the more troubling for anyone
who is still humane enough to imagine a world without injustices. In other words, what should
cause more alarm is the documented widening of the gap between the richest and the poorest
segments of the population worldwide.
Income Inequality: Of Wealth-Gobbling Elites and Wage Slaves
In a well-researched media briefing titled The cost of inequality: how wealth and
income extremes hurt us all,” Oxfam, a UK-based anti-poverty NGO, eloquently described the
global trend of income disparities: Over the last thirty years inequality has grown dramatically
in many countries. In the US the share of national income going to the top 1% has doubled since
1980 from 10 to 20%. For the top 0.01% it has quadrupled to levels never seen before. At a
global level, the top 1% (60 million people), and particularly the even more select few in the top
0.01% (600,000 individuals - there are around 1200 billionaires in the world), the last thirty years
has been an incredible feeding frenzy. This is not confined to the US, or indeed to rich countries.
In the UK inequality is rapidly returning to levels not seen since the time of Charles Dickens. In
China the top 10% now take home nearly 60% of the income. Chinese inequality levels are now
similar to those in South Africa, which are now the most unequal country on earth and
significantly more unequal than at the end of apartheid. Even in many of the poorest countries,
inequality has rapidly grown. Globally the incomes of the top 1% have increased 60% in twenty
years. The growth in income for the 0.01% has been even greater…”
For those who like visual presentations, this table provides data on the wealth of the
richest person in every Southeast Asian country using data from Forbes Magazine (2011 and
2013), Financial Times (2008), Time Magazine (2007) and other online sources, vis-à-vis the
minimum wage in those countries from various online sources:
Monthly Minimum
Wage In US Dollars
$88 to $227 (2013)
$259 to $291 (2013)
$174 to $342 (2013)
$800 to $1,2007 (2012)
$300 (2013)
$412 to $7008 (2010)
$179 (2008)
$6110 (2013)
$80 (2013)
$86 to $119 (2013)
Timor Leste
$115 (2012)
The preceding table proves that the disparity between poor minimum wage earners and
Third World billionaires/millionaires is so huge. It must be noted that disparities between
countries are also observable. For example, the minimum wage in Myanmar is dismally low
As of this writing, there’s no minimum wage yet in Singapore but trade unionists are clamoring for an $800 to
$1,200 minimum wage for cleaners.
As of this writing, there’s no minimum wage yet in Brunei and the most recent proposal for imposing such has
been discussed in a March 2013 Legislative Council but no resolution was made. The amounts $412 to $700 are the
minimum salaries for school leavers who serve in the public sector. Technical college graduates and university
graduates receive higher salaries.
According to the 2008 Human Rights Report on Burma by the US Department of State,(v)arious subsidies and
allowances supplemented this sum.”
Cambodian trade unionists clamor for a $120 to $150 minimum wage for garment workers and the government
has shown some signs of agreeing to a $120 minimum wage.
when compared with the minimum rates in other developing Southeast Asian nations. Regardless
of the innate differences between these countries, it is safe to conclude that, across the countries
surveyed, a few elite businessmen and their partners are able to monopolize the profits from the
sweat of minimum wage earners who compose majority of the labor force.
There are also more specific data on inequalities within countries, to further prove that
the Marxist exposé on capitalist exploitation remains as clear and as relevant as it was almost
two centuries ago. For example, here’s a graph that shows the income share of the “upper” 50%
and the “lower” 50% of families in the Philippines from 1961-2009, lifted albeit with
modifications from the presentation “Family Income Distribution in the Philippines, 1985-
2009: Essentially the Same (2011) by Tomas Africa, former administrator of the National
Statistics Office (NSO):
As the example has shown, in recent decades, there’s no significant change in the income
shares of the richest and poorest segments of the population in the Philippines. Meanwhile,
here’s a table showing the income share of the “highest 10%” and the “lowest 10%” of the
population, from selected Southeast Asian countries for which World Bank data (2008 and 2009)
are available:
Income Share of
the Highest 10%
Income Share of
the Lowest 10%
34.7% (2009)
1.8% (2009)
33.6 (2009)
2.6 (2009)
31.5 (2009)
2.8 (2009)
31.4% (2008)
3.3% (2008)
30.3% (2008)
3.3% (2008)
28.2% (2008)
3.2% (2008)
From the table above, it can right away be said that there’s a huge gap between the
income share of the richest and the poorest citizens in developing countries. On a macrolevel,
vast disparities are also visible. As per the 2013 Forbes World’s Billionaires list, the world’s
1,426 richest individuals have an aggregate net worth of $5.4 trillion, which is more than the
combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of all South Asian countries and developing countries
of Sub-Saharan Africa ($3,534,392,258,395 in 2011), and nearly reaching the combined GDP of
developing countries in Latin America and the Caribbean ($5,646,122,086,097 in 2011). Surplus
value is still monopolized and eaten up by the exploiters who just give bread crumbs to the
proletariat, just enough for the latter to come to work tomorrow. No wonder, working peoples of
the world are still clamoring for more “bread rations,” and some are even demanding control
over “the whole goddamn bakery.”
Humanization of Capitalism or Resistance?
Discussing the ideas of the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, Santiago Zabala (2013)
opines that In this scenario...we have two options: either proceed “humanising or resisting
capitalism” (conservation of its matrix of profit-orientation in such a way as to support the
remains of social welfare) regardless the system is approaching apocalyptic zero-point, or use the
same antagonism in order to reactivate communism.It is in this context that Marxism all the
more retains its potency and relevance: the Marxist critique of capitalism compels us to rethink
what’s wrong with the world why there’s huge wealth and income inequality at a time when
neoliberals keep yakking about macroeconomic growth, a booming stock market and increased
wealth for the wealthiest and how this can be transformed. Whether we choose to humanize
capitalism or resist it so as to replace it with a better system, the circumstances require the use of
the tool of analysis that has never failed in its condemnation of the exploitative system that
visionaries still battle today. As Eagleton says, “Marx was right...” and this Third World
researcher bravely adds: “...all the more in the Third World.”
Debanksterization: Putting People Back in Control
Most of the times, Marxism is derided by its implacable critics at the payroll of
capitalists as a mere tool for critique with all talk and no action, but a closer look at Marxist
documents and Marxist-inspired ideas will prove that Marxism also offers feasible solutions to
the world’s ills, solutions that are yet to be tried, at least in vast parts of the Third World. For
example, at a time when almost everyone agrees that banks and banksters are guilty of
perpetrating or at least causing the current international financial crisis by seeking short-term
profits at the expense of depositors, and eventually forcing neoliberal governments around the
world to provide multibillion-dollar bail-out funds to banks from taxpayers’ money slashed away
from the already insufficient budget for badly-needed social services such as education, health
care and housing, The Communist Manifesto’s call for the Centralisation of credit in the hands
of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly,” remains
as compelling as ever. The process of debanksterization, the process of smashing into
smithereens private control and ownership of the lifeblood of every economic system the
banking system must commence. It is only through this Marxist prescription that the current
crisis will once and for all be ended.
Capitalist banksters’ failure to manage the banking system efficiently and effectively for
the past decades, and their distress call to governments when they sank like proud yet still not
unsinkable ships, prove that greedy corporations and private hands have no business running the
banking system. Documented various forms of banking fraud, “rogue trading” or “money
laundering,” involving banks and/or their officials and employees further sully the reputation and
capability of the private sector to handle the banking system. Numerous cases against banks have
been reported such as the following: an employee of UBS who was convicted in Britain (Croft
Law, 2013); Deutsche Bank AG (DBK), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), UBS AG (UBSN) and
Depfa Bank as convicted by a Milan judge (Martinuzzi, 2012); a former chief executive of
Glitnir, which was Iceland’s third-largest bank before its collapse in October 2008, who was
sentenced to nine months in prison for fraud” (Milne and Cumbo, 2012); a “rogue trader who
was jailed for three years and ordered to repay €4.9 billion” to French bank Société Générale
(Lichfield, 2012); two Barclays Bank workers who “have been jailed at Birmingham Crown
Court for defrauding three elderly customers of £1.3m” (BBC News Online, 2011); Kabul Bank
officials who have been ordered to pay back a combined total of more than $800mfor the
biggest banking scandal the world has seen” (Graham-Harrison, 2013); Barclays in Britain that
“was fined a record £290 million for repeatedly distorting basic financial data which are used to
set interest rates on millions of loans and other transactions around the world” (The Telegraph
Online, 2012); a former Citibank employee “was convicted” “...of stealing more than $1.3
million...” (Federal Bureau of Investigation/FBI Online, 2013); a Citi Group vice-president who
pleaded “guilty to fraud charges(Pavlo, 2011); a private banker for Citigroup Inc. in Indonesia
convicted for “stealing $4.4 million from clients” (Steger and Bellman, 2012); HSBC agreed “to
pay $1.9 billion U.S. fine in (a) money-laundering case” (Viswanatha and Wolf, 2012) and many
more. These reports are enough proof that the banks and banksters who have presence in both the
First and the Third Worlds had their chance and they’ve ruined it.
It must be noted that the banksters’ failure in the First World mirror what could happen
too in the Third World if the banking system is not debanksterized, considering that many First
World banks have offices and subsidiary entities in the Third World. In fact, even “independent”
Third World banks operate within the neoliberal framework that First World banks adore so
much. It’s about time to put people feasibly via the State or any entity that represents them
back in control. The fruitful experiences of cooperatives around the world provide proof that the
common people, even social movements, can run the banking system or at least a semblance of
it. Indeed, the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) Movement has tinkered with the idea of establishing
an alternative banking system as early as 2011 through the OWS-affiliated Alternative Banking
Group (Harkinson, 2011).
Finally, it must be emphasized that debanksterization means dismantling the destructive
unholy trinity of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and General Agreement on
Tariffs and Trade-World Trade Organization (GATT-WTO) too (Peet, 2009), to facilitate
grassroots globalization against corporate globalization that emphasizes privatization of social
services, perpetuation of Third World dependence on the First World, race-to-the-bottom
economy via the international lowering (or stagnancy) of wages in a “globalized” world, and
austerity measures/budget cuts on badly-needed social services at a time when only these
services can shield the people from the effects of the international financial crisis. The World
Social Forum, the Banco el Sur (Bank of the South), the International League of Peoples’
Struggles (ILPS) and similar formations and organizations offer counterpoints to the ruling but
fast-crumbling trinity of neoliberal capitalism.
This unholy trinity is the monster that wrought the shackles of inequitable and First
World-leaning corporate globalization. Pope Paul VI in “Populorum Progressio” or “On the
Development of Peoples” (1967) blasted such unjust system that perpetuates the Third World’s
poverty: “Of course, highly industrialized nations export for the most part manufactured goods,
while countries with less developed economies have only food, fibres and other raw materials to
sell. As a result of technical progress, the value of manufactured goods is rapidly increasing and
they can always find an adequate market. On the other hand, raw materials produced by
undeveloped countries are subject to wide and sudden fluctuations in price, a state of affairs far
removed from the progressively increasing value of industrial products. As a result, nations
whose industrialization is limited are faced with serious difficulties when they have to rely on
their exports to balance their economy and to carry out their plans for development. The poor
nations remain ever poor while the rich ones become still richer.”
Dr. Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s speech titled “On Development” and delivered at a plenary
session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on March 25,
1964, mirrors Pope Paul VI’s observation and still fittingly describes the current hegemony of
First World countries over Third World ones that still needs to be shattered if genuine progress
for all countries is to be achieved: The inflow of capital from the developed countries is the
prerequisite for the establishment of economic dependence. This inflow takes various forms:
loans granted on onerous terms; investments that place a given country in the power of the
investors; almost total technological subordination of the dependent country to the developed
country; control of a country's foreign trade by the big international monopolies; and in extreme
cases, the use of force as an economic weapon in support of the other forms of exploitation.”
Vincent Ferraro (2008) further clarifies the existence of such dependence ingrained in the global
economic system: “The distinction between underdevelopment and undevelopment places the
poorer countries of the world in a profoundly different historical context. These countries are not
‘behind’ or ‘catching up’ to the richer countries of the world. They are not poor because they
lagged behind the scientific transformations or the Enlightenment values of the European states.
They are poor because they were coercively integrated into the European economic system only
as producers of raw materials or to serve as repositories of cheap labor, and were denied the
opportunity to market their resources in any way that competed with dominant states.”
Nevertheless, after some Third World countries were able to industrialize via socialism
only to abandon socialist principles in favor of a mixture of state and private sector capitalism
without achieving First World status for their citizens, not only First World countries are guilty
in deepening the Third World’s dependency. In the 2012 edition of the global bestseller “When
China Rules The World,” Martin Jacques theorizes that China’s economic and cultural
hegemony is now inevitable. Jacques describes how most of the Third World’s future will be
determined by “…China’s overweening power, the dependency of countries in a multitude of
ways on China, especially trade and finance…” The sixth chapter of Jacques’ masterpiece
presents data on “China as an Economic Superpower.” He emphasizes that “…China has been
highly active in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, concluding major agreements with
Iran, Venezuela and the Sudan amongst many others,” because it is “…(a)nxious to secure
sufficient supplies of raw materials to fuel its booming economy…” The tenth chapter (“China as
A Rising Global Power”) of Jacques’ book further stresses the looming economic hegemony of
China in the Third World. Quoting Moeletsi Mbeki, deputy chairman of the South African
Institute of International Affairs, Jacques echoed Africa’s “fears” of Chinese economy
hegemony: “Africa sells raw materials to China and China sells manufactured products to Africa.
This is a dangerous equation that reproduces Africa’s relationship with colonial powers. The
equation is not sustainable for a number of reasons. First, Africa needs to preserve its natural
resources to use in the future for its own industrialization. Secondly, China’s export strategy is
contributing to the deindustrialization of some middle-income countries…Within the context of
the abovementioned, putting banks into state and/or collective control will greatly improve the
financial capability of Third World countries to resist and eventually free themselves from
Decommodification of Health Care, Research and Education
Debanksterization is the necessary first step towards the decommodification of health
care, research and education, because it will deprive greedy corporations of capital to gobble up
social services and transform them into profitable yet anti-people businesses. The campaign for
the decommodification of health care, research and education is a relatively easy one because it
is tantamount to merely upholding the spirit of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Free
health care and accessible research and education will enable Third World peoples to maximize
their potentials as citizens who are capable of transforming their societies for the better. Even the
Roman Catholic Church supports state intervention “in the field of social services” which Pope
John XXIII called as “socialization” in the social encyclical “Mater et Magistra” or “Mother and
Teacher” (Salgado, 1997). Seemingly echoing the Occupy Wall Street Movement and even
socialist and communist parties around the world that promote state intervention in the social
services, Pope John XXIII in “Mater et Magistra” went on to assert that “It is clear that
socialization, so understood, brings many advantages. It makes possible, in fact, the satisfaction
of many personal rights, especially those called economico-social, such as, for example the right
to indispensable means of human maintenance, to health services, to instruction at a higher level,
to a more thorough professional formation, to housing, to work, to suitable leisure.”
Socialist Cuba and Venezuela, and welfare statist Norway and Sweden are shining
examples on the importance of providing free health care and free education to citizens. To
illustrate Cuba, Venezuela, Norway and Sweden’s relative success, it is necessary to compare the
level of human development in those countries, and in Third World countries like the Philippines
and India where health care and education in the tertiary level are not free and accessible to all:
Tax The Rich More OR Expropriate Them
At a time when corporations and rich individuals are earning record profits, the
Communist Manifesto’s call for A heavy progressive or graduated income tax,” unites almost
every sane mind. Considering that expropriating big private businesses will be too revolutionary
for many countries, and if avoiding bloodshed is a priority, progressive taxation imposing more
taxes on those who reap record profits is the only bloodless way to go. Progressive taxation
will provide governments around the world additional funds for free health care and free
education at all levels. At the very least, Scandinavia’s welfare statism can be a role model for
those seeking a compromise between the demands of private businesses and the clamor of the
proletariat: the government allows private businesses to thrive but progressive tax rates are
imposed so as to “redistribute income” through levelling inequalities via free education and other
free or subsidized social services. The French socialists’ plan to impose a 75% tax rate for euro
millionaires is laudable although it was struck down by a French court.
There’s ample evidence that only political will is necessary to impose such taxes. For
example, the German-dominated European Union recently forced the government of Cyprus to
impose a 6.75% to 9.99% instant one-time tax on all bank deposits, as a precondition for the
approval of a European bail-out for Cyprus (Wearden, 2013). The said scheme is unjust because
it imposes an oppressive tax too even on small depositors who have nothing to do with the
financial crisis. However, it sets a precedent for the imposition of similar taxes for the wealthiest
corporations and individual capitalists. The imposition of a progressive tax rate can only work if
implemented and somewhat harmonized on a global scale to ensure that there will be no tax
havens for greedy capitalists.
Of course, nothing prevents enlightened and proletariat-leaning governments, and/or
revolutionary social movements around the world from literally creating a world where “The
expropriators are expropriated,” as discussed in Karl Marx’s “Das Kapital” or “Capital.” In other
words, people can try what Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia have done: partly or wholly
nationalize some industries and/or businesses to gain more control over the accumulation of
profits that can be used to bankroll social services, especially for the poorest citizens. As Salgado
(1997) points out, the words of Pope John XXIII in “Mater et Magistra” or “Mother and
Teacher” (1961) make it clear that “...the State and other public agencies should lawfully
possess as property productive goods especially when they carry with them the opportunity too
great to be left to private individuals...In modern times, there is a tendency towards progressive
taking over of property whose ownership is vested in the State or other agencies of public
authority. The fact finds its explanation in the ever widening activity which the common good
requires of the public authorities to carry on.”
Lichauco (1988) gives a very eloquent defense of State intervention in the economy,
asserting that it is “an indispensable element” of the development process as it is “...the highest
expression of a people’s collective personality. As such, it is the ultimate repository of a people’s
sovereign power, from the power to create their own currency, to the power to exercise
proprietary rights over the nation’s patrimony and the power to engage in productive
enterprise...If the government is inefficient and venal then the remedy is to make it an efficient
and honest agent, to improve its performance, but not to foreclose its role...” Lichauco went on to
praise “(t)he gigantic accomplishments of the Soviet Union and China...” that “attest to the
almost limitless power of the state to create an economic miracle.” In his words, “(t)hese two
giants...have constructed, in less than two generations, a powerful economic system which the
entire capitalist world now respects and fears; and they did so without the aid of private
enterprise, domestic or foreign.”
Orwell’s Implied Prescription: A War to End All Wars
Aside from higher taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations, additional funds for
social services can be acquired if wars around the world, especially those instigated by
imperialist powers, will be stopped. In George Orwell’s “1984,” the sinister agenda of
imperialist wars has been exposed: “War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the
stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to
make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent...The war is waged
by each ruling group against its own subjects, and the object of the war is not to make or prevent
conquests of territory, but to keep the structure of society intact. Simply put, wars squander the
world’s financial resources which could have been used to resolve social problems. Against such
a gloomy war economy where society’s excess wealth are used to develop weapons of mass
destruction, Orwell envisions a world where machines and technologies will eliminate “...the
need for human drudgery, and therefore to a great extent for human inequality...,” explaining that
If the machine were used deliberately for that end, hunger, overwork, dirt, illiteracy, and disease
could be eliminated within a few generations.”
Joseph Stiglitz, a former chief economist of the World Bank, seemingly contextualizes
Orwell’s ideas by revealing that the American government spent more than $3 trillion for the
Iraq War (Stiglitz and Bilmes 2010), an amount 24 times as much as the Philippines’ total debts
(around 5 trillion pesos) and this is just one war. If expenses for other wars will be totalled, it’s
possible that the world will have enough funds to resolve hunger, poverty and other social
problems. In the encyclical “Pacem in Terris” or “Peace on Earth” (1963), Pope John XXIII
logically explains how wars, the arms race, and lack of development, are tied up: ...We note the
enormous stocks of armaments that have been and still are being made in the more economically
developed countries with a vast outlay of intellectual and economic resources. And so it happens
that, while the people of these countries are loaded with heavy burdens, other countries as a
result are deprived of the collaboration they need in order to make economic and social
Science for Society: Renewable Energy, Agricultural Revival and Alternatives to Mining
As early as the 1930s, the genius Albert Einstein emphasized the importance of science in
society: “The most conspicuous practical effect of science is that it makes possible the contriving
of things that enrich life...inventions such as the steam engine, the railway, electric power and
light...” Scientists/researchers in these times must further contribute to this long list of life-
enriching scientific inventions. The advances in science and technology in recent decades, most
especially on renewable energy and biotechnology, drastically maximizes the world’s capacity to
sustain earthlings while sustaining itself. Renewable energy sources such as solar power, when
further developed, would make cheap and clean energy available to most of the world’s citizens.
In turn, such availability of cheap and clean energy can be harnessed to strengthen industries and
support agricultural revival. While current research on biotechnology still point out to many
disadvantages, it is possible that in the coming years, scientists will find a way to safely harness
this technology to eliminate world hunger.
Science and technology will certainly help realize practical goals outlined by The
Communist Manifesto for the common good such as “...bringing into cultivation of waste-lands,
and the improvement of the soil...Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries...”
Possibilities are boundless if previous inventions are to be used as a gauge of mankind’s
awesome capability to invent useful things that resolve social problems. Perhaps, safe and
environment-friendly synthetic materials will be discovered and mass-produced soon to
eliminate the need for destructive mining in forests, mountains, hills and other similar sites.
Perhaps, living sponges can be genetically modified to gobble up floodwater and convert it to a
form of bio-energy which can be utilized for electricity. Making science serve society will only
be possible if research and education are decommodified. In Einstein’s words, we need “
educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. Products of a publicly
subsidized research and education system are expected to contribute much to the society that
nurtured them and gave them the chance to maximize their potentials.
Long Live The Internationale: Unions and The Broader Movement for Social
The abovementioned sweeping reforms/schemes are impossible to achieve without the
unity of oppressed and marginalized peoples in the world. No one expects the capitalists and
their allies to all of a sudden become good-hearted enough to voluntarily resolve the problems
they have brought to the world. In fact, as part of the biggest problem, capitalists are expected to
vehemently resist any of the abovementioned reforms. Hence, everywhere, in Zuccotti Park, in
Tahrir Square, in Puerta del Sol, Mendiola Bridge, and other centers of the broad social
movement for genuine world transformation, people need to realize that, as Billy Bragg’s
modern version of “L’Internationale” says, “change will not come from above.” It is always the
grassroots movements that bring genuine systemic transformation.
Marx’s call for “Working men of all countries” to “unite” is not at empty slogan. The
workers, most especially their unions, are a necessary ingredient for any social movement to
decisively humanize or resist and replace capitalism with a better system. It is the workers in
offices, schools, factories, cubicles, docks, streets, banks, government agencies etc. that make
capitalism function efficiently. Hence, if they organize themselves to humanize or resist and
replace capitalism, half of the struggle is won. As cogs of the capitalist system, they possess the
most powerful weapon against capitalism. They are the “gravediggers of capitalism” in as much
as they make capitalism work: they stop working and the system stops working too. They
collectively clamor for change and change will be possible. In the words of Pope John Paul II in
“Laborem Exercens” or “On Human Work” (1981): “The experience of history teaches that
organizations of this type (unions) are an indispensable element of social life, especially in
modern industrialized societies. They (unions) are indeed a mouthpiece for the struggle for social
justice, for the just rights of working people...” In another papal encyclical (“Mater et
Magistra”), Pope John XXIII emphasized the importance of workers’ participation at all levels of
decision-making: “...we cannot fail to emphasize how timely and imperative it is that the workers
exert their influence, and effectively so, beyond the limits of the individual productive units, and
at every level...the individual productive units...form a vital part of the economic and social
complexity of the respective political communities...” Pope John XXIII further asserts the role
that labor unions should play in government: “ is not the decisions made within the individual
productive units which are those that have the greatest bearing, instead it is those made by public
authorities or by institutions that act on a worldwide, regional or national scale...” thus it is
appropriate and imperative “that among such authorities or institutions...the workers also or
those who represent their rights, demands and aspirations, should have a say.”
It is thus lamentable that labor union participation in most countries is declining. This
negative trend must be reversed. Unions must strengthen themselves by creatively attracting
workers to join them. As the tentacles of corporations and rich individuals reach all corners of
the globe, it is also necessary for labor unions and social movements to globalize their struggle
for social transformation. “The Internationale,” the organization that united working peoples of
the world for a time in the good old days of socialism, is dead but as they say, “Long Live The
Internationale!” Or more precisely, “Rebuild The Internationale!”
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... While unsurprisingly, these social uprising protagonists cite the extant capitalist movement as a precedent in which countries economically and socially thrive. But, just like Marx had predicted, these patterns have led to a widening gap in social, political and economic inequalities (Juan, 2017;Piketty, 2018). In our modern era, this economic system has also led to unprecedented challenges from an environmental standpoint where a majority of developing and vulnerable economies are facing immense hardships prompted by climate change. ...
This concluding chapter dwells into the theories and content that underpin this book. As a consequence, it explores, as an essay, how thematically to achieve resilience and sustainability without disrupting current economic models. Recognizing that no disruptions to local, regional and global economies will encourage a wider adoption of the proposed model, the consequential sustainability outcomes can still be wider in their encouragement of a more sustainable transition within the current capitalist culture. The final chapter thus explores how the proposed model can be applied to navigate through the contemporary capitalist culture, and how this culture can benefit from this approach as opposed to a disruptive shift that could destabilize and affect global markets.
... While unsurprisingly, these social uprising protagonists cite the extant capitalist movement as a precedent in which countries economically and socially thrive. But, just like Marx had predicted, these patterns have led to a widening gap in social, political and economic inequalities (Juan, 2017;Piketty, 2018). In our modern era, this economic system has also led to unprecedented challenges from an environmental standpoint where a majority of developing and vulnerable economies are facing immense hardships prompted by climate change. ...
This book explores climate change responsiveness policies for cities and discusses why they have been slow to gain traction despite having been on the international agenda for the last 30 years. The contributing role of cities in accentuating the effects of climate change is increasingly demonstrated in the literature, underscoring the unsustainable models on which urban life has been made to thrive. As these issues become increasingly apparent, there are global calls to adopt more sustainable and equitable models, however doing so will mean the disruption of economies that have historically relied upon pollution-generating industries. In order to address these issues the authors examine them from a cross-disciplinary perspective, bringing in regional, local and urban standpoints to subsequently propose an alternative short-term economic model that could accelerate the adoption of climate change mitigation infrastructures and urban sustainability in urban areas. This book will be of particular value to scholars and students alike in the field of urbanism, sustainability and resilience, as well as practitioners looking at avenues for economically incentivizing sustainable development in various geographical context.
... Official World Bank statistics on poverty and their traditional measurements are put into question (Moatsos, 2017) and calls are made for the "measurement of poverty in both monetary and non-monetary dimensions" so as to "reduce poverty in all its forms" (Saunders, 2018). Even an IMF-funded study (Ostry et al., 2016) admits that instead of delivering growth, neoliberalism has not succeeded in bringing economic development to the broadest number of people, as massive poverty and income inequality abound in many countries, more especially in the developing world (San Juan, 2017). ...
Full-text available
Mainstream academia’s and neoliberal economists’ failure to exhaustively explain the roots of the 2008 crisis and point a way towards how the world can fully recover from it, made radical theories of poverty and income inequality more popular and relevant as ever. Official World Bank statistics on poverty and their traditional measurements are put into question and even an IMF-funded study admits that instead of delivering growth, neoliberalism has not succeeded in bringing economic development to the broadest number of people, as massive poverty and income inequality abound in many countries, more especially in the developing world. Drawing from theories on surplus value, labor exploitation, and economic dependency, this paper will present an updated critique of the official poverty line in the Philippines and how official statistics mask the true extent of poverty in the country, thereby figuratively many faces of poverty hidden if not obliterated; analyze the link between poverty and income inequality within the country’s neocolonial set-up; and present summarized selected life stories of ambulant vendors, mall personnel, fast food workers, cleaners, security guards and other typical faces of poverty in the Philippines’ macro-economically rich capital region – Metro Manila – which serve as fitting counterpoints to the official narrative. Such discussion will be the paper’s springboard in presenting an alternative plan towards sustainable development of the Philippines.
... Hence, an alternative is needed if Earth is to be saved. It is in this context that the anti-capitalist stance of radical intellectuals-who subscribe to Marxism or are at least influenced by certain forms of Marxism, such as Chomsky (2013) and Zabala (2012)-and the alter-capitalist viewpoint of less radical yet equally non-neoliberal academics such as Piketty (2013), Stiglitz (2012), and Chang (2012), gain more credence especially in the Third World ( San Juan, 2017). ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
As the latest global crisis of capitalism that started in 2008 remains technically unresolved, the anti-capitalist stance of radical intellectuals – who subscribe to Marxism or are at least influenced by certain forms of Marxism, such as Chomsky (2013) and Zabala (2012) – and the alter-capitalist viewpoint of less radical yet equally non-neoliberal academics such as Piketty (2013), Stiglitz (2012), and Chang (2012), gain more credence. Meanwhile, extreme climate change – caused by capitalism’s seemingly unbridled greed for unlimited macroeconomic growth – threatens to annihilate the Earth and humankind. Amidst the euphoria over the declaration of the birth of the ASEAN Economic Community, pragmatic observers point out to the necessity of critiquing its neoliberal trajectory, if genuine sustainable development is to be realized in the region. This paper is primarily aimed at providing a Marxist and Dependency Theory critique of ASEAN Integration by using lessons from the European Union’s integration scheme, recent papal writings released by the relatively progressive Pope Francis, and even some socially relevant films. Related statistics from various databases will be utilized to bolster the critique of the current ASEAN scheme that is very similar to the neoliberal EU project, a zero-sum game where a stronger country “wins” at the expense of another. Poverty, labor exploitation, race-to-the-bottom globalization, core-periphery contrasts, concentration of wealth will be highlighted in the discussion, towards providing pointers for what Marxists call as “another world” that is still possible to achieve, a “social ASEAN,” to borrow the term used by progressive Europeans, or a more egalitarian Asian “Norway,” as discussed in Slavoj Žižek’s essay “The Non-Existence of Norway,” and along the lines of Sam Kriss’ rebuttal “Building Norway: a critique of Slavoj Žižek.” Hence, the critique of ASEAN integration’s current neoliberal direction will be a springboard in presenting a progressive alternative plan, a project akin to the declared objectives of non-neoliberal transnational formations such as the World Social Forum, Alianza Bolivariana de las Américas (ALBA) and International League of Peoples’ Struggles (ILPS). Such progressive ASEAN project shall be a model of international cooperation, rather than race-to-the-bottom competition, established on the foundations of a three-point agenda for sustainable development: 1) full-blast research on and utilization of renewable energy for continuous macroeconomic development with negligible environmental impact; 2) transnational tax reform and “solidarity fund” activation to redistribute wealth; and 3) transnational cooperation on managed migration to help poorer countries and lessen the burden of climate change adaptation.
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Pangunahing layunin ng artikulong ito na itala at itampok sa wikang Filipino, ang dalawang modelong pagtugon sa krisis na dulot ng COVID-19, bilang pagbibigay-diin sa mga hakbang na dapat pang isabalikat at/o palawakin upang epektibong masugpo ang pandemya at matiyak na matutulungang mabilis na makabangong muli ang mga mamamayang pinakaapektado nito. Pangunahing pokus ng panimulang sipat-patakaran ang mass testing at nasyonalisasyon – dalawang polisiyang nagkaroon ng positibong epekto sa pangkalahatang pagsisikap na kontrolin kundi man sugpuin ang pagkalat ng coronavirus. Perspektibang sosyalista – na ang pinakaubod ay pagtataguyod ng kapakanan ng nakararami at pagpawi sa pagsasamantala at pang-aapi – ang pangunahing analitikal na balangkas na ginamit sa pagtukoy at pagsusuri sa mga polisiyang itinuturing na modelo. This article is aimed at discussing two model responses to the crisis brought by COVID-19, in Filipino, to emphasize the steps that must be undertaken or measures that must be broadened to effectively contain the pandemic and ensure that those most affected by the pandemic would be aided towards swift recovery. This policy analysis focuses on mass testing and nationalization – two policies with positive impact on the over-all endeavor to control or contain the spread of the coronavirus. Socialist perspective – with promotion of the people’s welfare and wiping out exploitation and oppression at its core – is the main analytical framework used in identifying and analyzing the model policies.
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Fecha de recepción: noviembre de 2017 Fecha de aceptación y versión definitiva: diciembre de 2017 resumen: Tras describir el contexto de los años sesenta en el que nace la encícli-ca de Pablo VI, enfatizando la diversidad y heterogeneidad entre y dentro de los bloques geopolíticos, el trabajo comenta las principales propuestas de la Populorum progressio que aún tienen vigencia y finaliza comparando cuatro posibles modelos de desarrollo que conviven en la actualidad: el liberal, el de bienes públicos globales, los altermundistas y el centrado en valores, reseñando sus principales fortalezas y amenazas. PAlAbrAs clAve: desarrollo humano integral; populorum progressio; valores. AbstrAct: This paper begins with an analysis of the historical context in which Paul VI's encyclical was born, with special emphasis on diversity between, and within, the main geopolitical blocks. It then discusses Populorum Progressio's main proposals, leading to a comparison of four present-day models of development: liberal, those based on public global goods, alter-globalists and those centered on ethical values.
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This article is aimed at analyzing the premises, perils, and promises of ASEAN integration. Beyond examining the region’s situation, this article will also draw lessons from the European Union and various incipient Latin American integration projects. Specifically, this article will address the following questions: (a) How does the ASEAN’s founding myth affect the ASEAN integration project’s general direction? (b) What is wrong with ASEAN’s current neoliberal framework? (c) What country will be the likely hegemon of the ASEAN economic and socio-cultural community? (d) Is a solidarity-based, people-centered, grassroots-driven, and non-neoliberal model for ASEAN integration possible and sustainable? (e) What lessons can be drawn from the European and Latin American integration schemes?
In this book, the author takes issue with the prejudice that Marxism is dead and done with. Taking ten of the most common objections to Marxism, that it leads to political tyranny, that it reduces everything to the economic, that it is a form of historical determinism, and so on, he demonstrates in each case what a woeful travesty of Marx's own thought these assumptions are. In a world in which capitalism has been shaken to its roots by some major crises, this book is as urgent and timely as it is brave and candid. Written with wit, humor, and clarity.
The top 1 percent of Americans control 40 percent of the nation's wealth. And, as Joseph E. Stiglitz explains, while those at the top enjoy the best health care, education, and benefits of wealth, they fail to realize that "their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live." Stiglitz draws on his deep understanding of economics to show that growing inequality is not inevitable: moneyed interests compound their wealth by stifling true, dynamic capitalism. They have made America the most unequal advanced industrial country while crippling growth, trampling on the rule of law, and undermining democracy. The result: a divided society that cannot tackle its most pressing problems. With characteristic insight, Stiglitz examines our current state, then teases out its implications for democracy, for monetary and budgetary policy, and for globalization. He closes with a plan for a more just and prosperous future.
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