Transcending capitalism

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“When science and technology is unleashed into the social system directly to improve peoples lives without restrictions of money, the marketplace or patents, we could then begin to know what it really means to be human.”
~ Roxanne Meadows

The problem with capitalism is that it creates an artificial scarcity, causing everyone to be bound by these limitations, when in reality, we all have equal rights to have access to the resources we need. The monetary system is fundamentally flawed as a tool to facilitate transaction of goods and services because it results in inequality among us human beings as well as causes us to be alienated from the natural sources where we get our supply of resources.

Capitalism strips us of our humanity, our human dignity, and our capacity to connect with one another and with the environment. It also imposes the illusion of separateness and superiority. Moreover, it fuels competition and violence towards ourselves and others, when a better way of cooperation and peace is possible and available. ​

“What is clear is that man-made globally systemic poverty is the result of competing for resources, regardless of what economic flag you wave…. In my opinion, a gift economy is truly the only universal economy that serves humanity and the planet…. To move humanity to the next stage of our evolution, we must learn how to tap into our individual creative genius and collaborate.”

(From “New Economy 2015: Trickle-Up Economics” by Christine Horner)

Thoughts on Pulau Ubin, Singapore

I came across the above video recently in my Facebook newsfeed. Thoughts went through my mind, and I have long wanted to address the issue of the natural beauty of Pulau Ubin being spoilt by human intervention. Finally, I decided to post my comment in response to the video, as follows:

“Thank you for the video. Pulau Ubin is what Singapore mainland used to be more than a century ago, mainly forested with some self-sufficient farms, few buildings and roads. Many people today are calling for the rustic, natural environment of Ubin to be preserved because capitalism, materialism and consumerism have caused the mainland to lose its soul and character and become disconnected with Nature in the name of material progress.

IMG_0331Littering and improper waste disposal are still a perennial problem, especially along the southern and eastern coasts of Pulau Ubin, where rubbish entangled among the mangrove roots and/or washed ashore the sandy beaches is both an eyesore and a grim reminder of the far-reaching effects of a consumerist and materialistic culture in our urbanised society.

As long as we aren’t dealing with the root of this problem, anything we do to help protect and preserve Ubin will only be like applying band-aid to a deep wound, which may provide temporary relief at best. Unless we drastically change our mindset and ditch the capitalistic, monetary system that breeds inequality and results in unsustainable growth and environmental degradation, Ubin will die a slow death in following the footsteps of the mainland.

History has proven time and again that once prosperous cities such as Rome and Babylon would suffer decline and become no more than relics, and Singapore is no different if we don’t embrace a resource-based system and egalitarianism, as proposed by the Venus Project. It remains to be seen how each of us chooses to do our part for the environment as global citizens and children of the Earth, for every one of us matters and we are all one and interconnected.”

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The Dark Side of Chocolate

Video information

While we enjoy the sweet taste of chocolate, the reality is strikingly different for African children.

In 2001 consumers around the world were outraged to discover that child labor and slavery, trafficking, and other abuses existed on cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast, a country that produces nearly half the world’s cocoa. An avalanche of negative publicity and consumer demands for answers and solutions soon followed.

Two members of US Congress, Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa and Representative Eliot Engel of New York, tackled the issue by adding a rider to an agricultural bill proposing a federal system to certify and label chocolate products as slave free.

The measure passed the House of Representatives and created a potential disaster for Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland Mars, Hershey’s, Nestle, Barry Callebaut, Saf-Cacao and other chocolate manufacturers. To avoid legislation that would have forced chocolate companies to label their products with “no child labor” labels (for which many major chocolate manufacturers wouldn’t qualify), the industry fought back and finally agreed to a voluntary protocol to end abusive and forced child labor on cocoa farms by 2005.

The chocolate industry fought back. Ultimately, a compromise was reached to end child labor on Ivory Coast cocoa farms by 2005. In 2005 the cocoa industry failed to comply with the protocol’s terms, and a new deadline for 2008 was established. In 2008 the terms of the protocol were still not met, and yet another deadline for 2010 was set.

Almost a decade after the chocolate companies, concerned governments and specially foundations spent millions of dollars in an effort to eradicate child labor and trafficking in the international cocoa trade, has anything changed?

Miki Mistrati and U Roberto Romano launch a behind-the-scenes investigation and verify if these allegations of child labor in the chocolate industry are present today.

This image was selected as a picture of the we...
This image was selected as a picture of the week on the Czech Wikipedia for th week, 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After watching the documentary “The dark side of chocolate”, I am looking at chocolate in a very different way. It is depressing to see how children were misled or abducted by child labour traffickers to be transported from Mali to Ivory Coast to work as slaves in the cocoa plantations. Since much of the world’s cocoa comes from Ivory Coast which has yet to comply with the protocol’s terms to end child labour on cocoa farms until today, most of the chocolate sold in various countries could well be a result of the ongoing child labour. Choosing not to buy chocolate would be one way to redress or deal with this human injustice, besides spreading awareness. The documentary also shows how capitalism may give rise or support child labour in this lucrative industry since plantation owners have been able to motivate some local people to be involved in child labour trafficking by paying them, which they would most likely otherwise not have done so if not for the inhumane, self-serving monetary system.