How elite capture of society prevents equality
From Socrates to Sartre, since the dawn of time, it has been more or less accepted, although not always implemented, that the tools for transformation should be made available to people from all walks of society. However, in a rapid and often "might is right" culture, the world, while transforming into a global village, is also becoming the cauldron for cooking up policies, positions and practices that ensure that the reins remain in the hands of the elite few. Rules are ideals set by rulers as they always have been, and the result is a so-called global village, where an elite few (around 1 percent) control the total assets and values of planet earth (99 percent). "At any time up to 1939, the case for greater equality, at least of incomes, seemed self-evident. By making the rich less rich, the poor could be made less poor" (The Future of Socialism, Anthony Crosland).
While it is no news that education and access to sources of entrepreneurship are the only way out for an ever-expanding population booming beyond the barriers of the 7 billion mark every second, the "criteria" to qualify for those same "rights" are being decided by a few, the crème de la crème of society. The rule that applies to the Chosen Few (as Carl Jung terms them) pervades from economics to industry, from governments to governance. But does that mean everyone in the higher tiers of society, in a position to ensure the existence and maintenance of rules, is gripped by this self-serving philosophy? Obviously not! However, the fact that they are often short-sighted cannot be denied.
Our intention is not to engage in battle rather to try to point out to ourselves where we are going wrong. Because sad as it might be for us to conceive, many of us "participating" in this article at this very moment are willingly or unwillingly helping to broaden the gap between the social classes. Coming back to the point of how the cog that turns the wheels of economics, one needs but only a casual look for one to realise that there is more at stake than is evident on the surface.
When donor organisations select a particular point of action, a place (region, country, and neighbourhood) they want to help with their financial and/or other forms of aid. But more often than not they fail to choose the best possible candidates to run the projects. A classic example is the education sector, which actually fits the description of a catch-22 situation perfectly. Schools that excel in quality are monitored and controlled (for lack of a better term) by the top tiers. On the other hand, let's look at our own position where the ratio of secondary school students to teachers is a shameful 42:1 (Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information and Statistics, 2017).
First let's turn our microscope towards the reasons the problems are arising. Those who make vital decisions don't care about the needs of other brilliant people. The answer, in one word, has been acclaimed by every Fortune 500 CEO since 2012: entitlement. When one has a false sense of entitlement to the work, they also suffer from insecurity. They tend to see newcomers as threats. This eventually contributes to the "rich-poor gap" eventually turning it into a "rich-poor gulf"! In the job market, there are many educated individuals waiting to get employed. They are educated up to the doctoral level but they can't find relevant jobs. That is a point to ponder.
Way back in 1844, before the advent of social media and the promises of it bringing us together, Marx said, "Man is alienated from the product of his work and the act of producing from his own social nature and his own fellow man" (The Nature of the Psyche, Carl Gustav Jung). How amazingly accurate that farsighted visionary seems today, within and all around us! The kind of work one does determines his/her social position, and that in turn determines whether or not he/she will be able to mingle with those "above" him, and his access to benefits that are expected to be basic human rights, for all.
The major reason behind this is that the considerable number of individuals, who are lucky enough to represent the more affluent parts of society, refuse to leave their posts. Many young, talented and promising candidates are not only missing out on opportunities, but are helplessly witnessing the decay of the overall fabric of society. Connections create career, not calibre.
Perhaps Hegel was not totally wrong about the wrongdoings and wrathful influences money can bring. Public awareness is not enough anymore; maybe a public that is more vocal about their rights is the answer. Public inclusion means accepting ideas from the people. They also need to recognise outstanding individuals to accomplish the work. Accountability and transparency need to be practised by the decision-makers. All the resources allocated need to be accounted for. This will help eliminate the misuse of resources that have led to the control of societal barriers.
Whether we like it or not, whether we turn a blind eye at emerging segments or not, there is a significant number of unemployed youth that our society is comprised of. Giving them not only opportunities, but showing them the incentives to grow, has proved to get the optimum benefit from them. All knowledge centres and all aspects of knowledge creators should be equipped equally in a society. This will allow all students to get quality education. Thus, the cycles of poverty will be broken—if not today, then certainly in the near future. An equal society is the ultimate one in terms of well-being and productivity as well as harmony.
But it is also true that human beings have an innate knack to get out of any troublesome situation. Charity begins at home, and as individuals, we must begin with ourselves, and soon that day shall come when the words, "The elite want power but human beings are driven by mutual love," (Marx at the Millennium, Cyril Smith) will take true meaning in the words of the Great Maestro himself. When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.
AZM Saif is Managing Director, Paper Rhyme Advertising Limited. E-mail: [email protected]