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Archive for June 29th, 2007

Erradicating Poverty

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on June 29, 2007

Capitalism needs poverty. It is the poor who run the machinery. So there must be an end to capitalism. The best way to do this is to stop supporting corporations. We have to think more small business and more local production, especially of clothing and food.

Empowerment is making people know what is going on. An informed population is a dangerous one for the bourgeoisie. It is the ultimate cog breaker in the enormous capitalist chain.

Bartering and other money-alternate activities are also very essential, as is living a simple and sane lifestyle.

After people are able to alleviate poverty in their own communities, they will be so much more useful in global poverty eradication. Ted Kouretas in a discussion on Erradicating Poverty

My Reply to him:

When I read your post, Ted, I am reminded of the concept of Tzedakah – just distribution of societal resources to all. The simple and functioning base for Marxism.

Look at Grameen bank – it works. Indian women are slowly erdicating not just their own poverty, but others’ too – and why?

Because someone came up with the brilliant idea to accept the risk of loosing money by lending money without security. And for what? To start businesses that will make them both self-supporting and the producers of goods that is needed in their local community, as well as the inspiration for other to make similar ventures.

According to the Concept of Tzedakah, the highest level of Tzedakah is making someone self-supporting.

It strikes me that most large corporations today started out in someone’s garage with money from someone wealthy, that believed in the principle of Tzedakah.

What Grameen Bank does is believing in their customers’ ability to make something of the money they lend them, not their ability to pay those money back.

Same thing with Microsoft and the UN and the green computers for Africa – Knowledge is power, by educating teachers, so they can educate in Schools and providing functioning cheap computers they are empowering people.

This wouldn’t work if it hadn’t been for capitalism. It wouldn’t have worked if some had had their money seized in an attempt to erradicate capitalism.

It is far better to make people self-supportive and let them decide for themselves that passing that gift on to others will in the end create a society where we have not only financial, but also social justice – for all, also the capitalists.

To me this is all about ethics, about building a chain of “passing it forward”. Don’t thank me – pass it forward.

And this goes not only for monitary matters – it goes for everything. Each individual has something that is valuable to someone else, that is needed in the greater scheme of things. Even those that seemingly “take” are contributing something to the greater picture. Seeing that is all about ethics and the idea that we are all equals.

Some people don’t like my ideas about Tzedakah, because they believe that they are based in Judaic tradition – well they are, but they could just as well have been taken from Secular Humanism or Ethical Atheism.

Economic Justice, Tzedakah, Marx and where Marxism fails.

The Concept of Tzedakah

“Capitalism needs the poverty”.

No. Capitalism in it’s purest and most unbridled form needs consumers – consumers come from both the rich and poor sections of Society. Without a continuum in the chain of supply and demand Capitalism would be pointless. If there is no demand, Capitalism must either create such a demand or lower the price on the supply of whatever product it is wishes to capitalize on in order to survive.

It is therefore up to us, the consumers, regardless of our economic status, to inform Capitalism what direction we want it to take in it’s production. We make the choices.

Refusing to buy products that have been produced in countries and areas where work and wages do not meet the needs of the workers or violate their human rights is the ethical choice.

Franklin D. Roosevelt said it this way: “No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country.” this should go for any nation and any corporation/business, not just the US and large corporations.

If a corporation cannot safe-guard the quality of the environment for it’s workers and pay them wages they can live and prosper from, because to do so would mean bankruptcy, that corporation has forfeited it’s right to stay in business.

“The best way to do this is to stop supporting corporations.”

No. The best way to do this is to make sure that corporations that do not follow ethical guidelines along the lines of what is Human Rights, Living Wages and Workers Rights are forced out of business and to reward those corporations that do produce their goods from an ethical stand-point.

An example of this is ecological farming vs non ecological farming. If ecological farming is rewarded through subsidies, so it can produce at a lower cost, and non ecological farming is penalized through taxation and limitations, non ecological farmers will switch to ecological farming.

“Empowerment is making people know what is going on.”

No. You empower people by giving them choices and information so they can make informed choices – knowledge is worthless if you cannot put it to use in your own life. Forcing people to see things your way is only going to make them resentful.

“After people are able to alleviate poverty in their own communities, they will be so much more useful in global poverty eradication.”

True, but only if they are allowed to choose for themselves how and what. People without choices – also to own their land and get an income from that land – are no more powerful or happy than a slave.

Posted in Economy | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Economic Justice, Tzedakah, Marx and where Marxism fails.

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on June 29, 2007



From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!” (Karl Marx) also read my blog entry: The Concept of Tzedaka

Karl Marx was Jewish, though converted to Xianism, he had been raised in the Jewish Tradition, with it’s concepts and ideas. Nowhere is this better seen than in the quote above.

It is a sound idea, because from a Marxist perspective it suggests a collective responsibility for each individual in the collective. It has been criticized, and those who criticize it most strongly do so from the perspective that those who need might need too much or, as Ayn Rand suggested “that people should receive as much as they ask for, and they argue that the unproductive will ask for more than they produce, or more than they deserve“.

But the problem is not with the Marxist concept of the collective responsibility, but with the bits and pieces that are missing. The idea of Tzedakah is based firmly in the Ethical Monotheism of Judaism. Marx rightly or wrongly criticized organized religion as something that kept people from aspiring for more than to be just what they were at one specific moment, thus they would never rise and shake off the yoke of financial slavery. He attempted to replace Ethical Monotheism with Marxism as a system to build a society from, using concepts that had originally been rooted in the idea that a Higher Principle could, would and was governing people’s actions and interactions. The incentive for keeping the principle of Ethical Monotheism was the very survival of the people. No such incentive exists in Marxism. Although Marxism is still concerned with the collective responsibility for the individual as in the quote above, it fails to address the “Why?”.

Marxism works fine in a collective where the common goal is the same and where some basic principles are incorporated prior to it’s implementation. Marxism needs a Higher Ethical Principle that puts an incentive on both the individual and the collective to stay within the parameters of what is good for both. Without such an incentive Marxism is just Theory and nothing else.

Those that have taken Marx’ theories and run with them “as is” have sooner or later ended up in exactly the same place that their society were right before the implementation of Marxism. Corruption, financial slavery, injustice and limited personal Freedom. Those who have based their Marxism in some sort of Higher Principle, and have encouraged people to use their personal freedoms to develop new adaptation of Marxism within the parameters of the Higher principle have succeed.

Generally it seems that Marxism is suitable for smaller units of people, rather than larger units, such as Nations. This might be the case because as humans we are not capable of over viewing larger units than a Clan or a Village. It is simply not possible to connect the smaller units structurally unless you allow for “collective-individual” adaptations that takes into consideration the specific needs of each unit.

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