Capitalism leads to Social, Economical and political Inequalities
Capitalism leads to social, economical and political instability because it grants people the privilege of owning and selling all aspects of their lives and thereby giving power to those with resources while discriminating on those without. There has always been the belief that all men are born equal yet that truth has proved to be elusive as one grows up and realizes that life is filled with inequalities. Capitalism is a form of system whereby ownership of resources and marketing decisions are left in the hands of individuals and people are free to own various factors of productions. Capitalism leads to social classes and inequality with the emergence of status groups due to the impact of great wealth being in the hands of a few people.
This forms a certain social barrier limiting interactions with those perceived to be of inferior status. According to Weber owners of property and those without may belong in similar status since status might have been acquired by other means over a long period of time. Weber disagrees with Marx on the issue of power whereby Marx felt that those who were wealthy and of the upper class automatically assumed power and the lower class had to abide by the wishes of the wealthy. History has shown this to be true since groups with resources have established a political, social and economical dominance over weaker groups exploiting them and leading them to wallow in poverty and in an atmosphere of discrimination and inequality.
Human beings live in societies governed by certain rules that guide various aspects of society including trade, education and the rights of community members. Capitalistic societies have always had a certain group of people who have considered themselves more important than the others and have thereby imposed various regulations that might discriminate over some of the other members. In ancient time, white people believed that they were superior to black people and therefore used their resources to colonize weaker countries and exploit their resources to enrich themselves. This in turn impoverished the inhabitants of these lands and saw many people taken to slavery to earn wealth for their white masters.
The issue of human freedom has been an important subject from time immemorial and hence the presence of the phrase “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” in the American constitution. The issue of slavery was always a very controversial issue all over the world with many questioning the morality of some forcing others to work for them and be subject to their control. Slavery was abolished by Lincoln during the civil war and his actions though noble were motivated by a need to win the war. However, the proclamation only freed slaves from Southern sates and it became necessary to enact a law ending slavery in the whole country. In this regard, it became illegal for any person to force any person to involuntary servitude guaranteeing the rights of all citizens to liberty.
However, the end of slavery was not the end of problems related to minor groups who were mainly blacks in the American society. They were treated as second rate citizens and they did not have most of the rights enjoyed by the white majority. Though they were no longer slaves they were forced to work under deplorable conditions for their white employers and the same time receive meager earnings as the price of their labor. They were not allowed to vote since they were considered minority citizens and most were even subjected to violence and were not given access to justice to redress these violations of the rights. The American constitution guarantees that all men are born equal and therefore guaranteed rights that cannot be denied them and this led minority groups to fight against such breach of constitutional guarantees. The situation escalated in the 20th century when segregation became widespread with black citizens not allowed to use white citizen’s facilities.
These meant that minority groups were discriminated upon in employment, were not allowed in various establishments, and had separate schools with their white counterparts. This pushed these minority groups deep into poverty, a condition that will continue to be a big factor to the living stands of black people later on in the future. However, the 1900’s were an era of great civil movements that saw the granting of voting rights to all minority groups including women. The subsequent amendment to the constitution wanted to clarify that since the constitution clearly spelt that all people have certain unalienable rights, then any discrimination based on gender or race was contrary to the provisions of the constitution. Therefore, various governments continue to ensure that laws made do not infringe on the laws of individuals with the court reviewing laws and removing those that violate citizen’s rights.
On the international arena, the adoption of the bill of rights have helped lead to more rights and freedoms for people all over the world. However, as long as we live in a capitalistic world such laws are good on paper but are not adequate to bring equity in society since most of the countries wealth and property are in the hands of a few. Furthermore, vital needs like houses still remain too expensive for many top afford since decisions on their prices are left in the hands of money minded entrepreneurs. According to Hansberry (1994) the Younger family was poor and could not afford the required tuition fees to send Beneatha to a medical school. They were lucky to have the insurance money which unfortunately came by through the death of Lena’s husband. That money was however not adequate to cater for all the aspirations of the Younger family a situation similar through out that neighborhood and others across the country.
The issue of race has always been important especially in a country with the most diverse population in the entire world. In this regard it is important to understand the racial structures of the country in a bid to understand what it implies to the nation. The country has a large white population compared to the rest of the population. The second largest population is African Americans followed by Latino’s and Asians. African Americans make up a significant proportion of the total population of the American society. The history of black American’s is full of struggle and suffering and their present status an indication of their determination to acquire equity and equality in the society they call home. However, while a significant number of African American’s
in the society enjoys relative success, historical injustices still hampers equitable acquisition of wealth by this minority group putting them at a disadvantage against their white counterparts. Therefore, African Americans are faced with immense challenges leading to unemployment, poverty, political under representation and lack of sufficient access to higher education. A good instance of racial discrimination is the attempt to frustrate Lena’s bid to purchase a house in a white neighborhood. She was even offered more money to abandon her plans by white people who did not want black people settling in their suburb.
There are a lot of factors that influences the outcome of political struggles. However, present politics might be inclusive but as a result of various struggles fought over the years for what many would want to believe is equity and equality if justice is to be seen as a dominant force. One of the most controversial issues that have dominated politics of yester years is the issue of race. In most parts of the world various races previously deemed inferiors have had various atrocities brought unto them by other races that deemed themselves superior to them. Such occurred during the beginning of the 20th century when Nazi Germany decided that the Jewish race was inferior an attitude that led Hitler to commit mass murder of Jews, an act that later came to be called the holocaust. It is this same belief that saw the enslavement of black and Asian people whereby they were treated like second rate people to be owned at treated no better than animals. These examples are meant to be a strong reminder of how politics of race can be destructive and emphasize on the need to embrace brotherhood and the equality of all men. Nonetheless, various movements in the 60’s led by men like martin Luther led to the abolishment of segregation which was based on race and led a black man reside and exercise his prerogative inside the white house.
Two other issues that have also been dominant factors in the direction politics takes is the issue of class and gender equality. Marx said that so long as a society is divided into the classes of have and those without, politics will always be a struggle of trying to correct this imbalance. He further argues that members of similar classes will usually unite in pursuit of trying to safeguard their self interests. So long as classes exist the dominant class will always try to impose their views and therefore their beliefs will be taken to be the true reflection of the whole society. However, the are those who argue that slowly the society has changed and leadership is increasingly bowing to the wishes of the majority who make the lower classes and whose contribution to society makes it what it is. In this respect politics are becoming more issue oriented since the common people are no longer afraid to use their supreme numbers to effect changes when they feel that they desires are not being respected.
Lastly, the issue of gender has been a robust one and women have come along way since the times they were considered inferior to their male counterpart. Traditionally, women were viewed to be fit only for household tasks and child bearing with the role of leadership traditionally reserved for men. In this regard women were not even allowed to participate in the right to choose leaders and this denied them a chance to have a say in those who will be charged with making major decisions that involved them. Women therefore started many feminist movements that sought to dispel the myth that they were inferior and these efforts earned them their present situation in society that recognizes them as equals. This means that women enjoy the same rights as men and are free to pursue economic and political interests along their male counterpart. Women have risen to significant political position including presidents of nations proving that indeed or barriers that still remain to stop women from political leadership must be brought down. The problem with this set up is that even if the country has a woman president, the number of influential women would still be significantly smaller compared to men.
Traditionally major political posts were reserved for those with deep pockets since campaigns are costly. The cost of staging a serious election campaign is no easy task and voter’s minds are usually influenced by several campaigns on certain issues. Buying advertisement space and t v coverage of certain issues is expensive especially in the light that you have other competitors. While times are changing and issues are becoming important, even the election of Barrack Obama was greatly helped by his ability to raise huge sums of campaign money. Nonetheless, American politics continues to be dominated by one race a sign that inequality will persist even in the world’s foremost democracy. Beneatha according to Hansberry (1994) believed that political change was important if society was to become equitable and the election of the first black president might be an indicator of coming change.
Adam Smith is undoubtedly one of the most celebrated scholars of all time since his revolutionary theories on trade changed the way people engaged in commerce and ultimately the role of government in regulating trade within and without. He believed that human beings should be allowed to pursue their individual interest since in his own opinion this personal interest always ends up benefiting the whole of society. This system also has the capacity to correct imbalances that might result out of free trade. This is because a reduction in the supply of a commodity would result into increased demand for that commodity resulting into an increased cost of the commodity leading to increased production of the same in order to reap the increased profit. This would in turn lead to an increase in competition among the suppliers lowering the price of the commodity. This competition among traders prevents monopolistic behavior that would lead to exploitation of consumers. It is now wonder that Walter believed in the possibility of success in a liquor store even though others existed in the area.
However, free markets leave decisions on the hands of a few people whose motives might only be influenced by their desire to maximize profits. This might sometimes lead to a discrimination of people based on race or gender and act as a barrier for advancement not only in business but also in society. Private ownership of property puts most vital properties above the reach of many due to high prices charged by owners. Furthermore, banks charge exorbitant charges to those who borrow in order to acquire houses. This has seen many poor people live in low quality houses with some being homeless. The Younger family lived in a small house which was already over crowded and they were unable of affording a decent one on their salaries. The fact that they lived in an area described as “poor” shows that several people also lived under the same conditions. This problem extends to other basic commodities like food since their prices are high and in some countries people even starve to death. Health also becomes unaffordable to many since health insurance is offered by private firms and is becoming increasingly expensive. There are efforts to correct these inequalities but it is clear that governments need to do much more if equality is to be achieved.
After such lengthy consideration of important issues, we can conclude that capitalism does lead to social, economical and political inequalities. It is important to note that there are several efforts to correct such imbalances but a lot still needs to be done if their effect is to be felt. Nonetheless, it is unrealistic to expect that total equality can actually be achieved in a capitalistic society and the only probable success is to reduce the inequality gap between rich and poor.
Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun. New York: Vintage Books, 1994.