Capitalism not a cure for all ills


Tony Blair and Colonel Gaddafi in 2007, three years after sharing their first handshake.

RMB Senanayake, in your edition of 21 August, extols the virtues of Capitalism and I presume of free markets and states that this is the way forward for poor countries to develop, but as a simple layman, I have a few questions.

Is he aware that the developed countries, perhaps without exception, have all transferred massive riches from poor countries during the colonial period and that their present prosperity is without doubt built on those resources.

This is the scenario, even in this age. The British, with their presence in the mid-east and elsewhere; the French went into Mali not to uphold democracy but to safeguard their uranium sources. The Belgians receive rare minerals from their former Central African colonies, the Americans exploit almost all of the free market economies and sell fighter jets to the Saudis, whose military would be over equipped if supplied with bows and arrows. This list continues ad nauseam.

Is he aware that the corrupt in the former colonies pump in their ill-gotten wealth into those countries on a daily basis?

We read recently that when the British banking system was on the verge of collapse, Tony Blair bartered the so-called Lockerbie bomber for US$ 80 billion with Gaddafi. Such deals are not rare. Every time the west needs money, they squeeze the necks of the poor. Sometimes, they even sell their principles for Rolls Royce engines.

From where would we, who live in undeveloped countries, receive such cost free inflows of finance to buttress our economy?

It would indeed be an interesting exercise if some accountant could calculate the current financial position of those developed countries, if the prosperity gained from wealth exploited during the colonial period is removed. No, I’ll settle for just England’s situation, minus the wealth stolen just from India. Never mind the rest of their colonies. Then perhaps we will realise the success of capitalism.

Does RMBS admit that the two examples he has quoted, India and China, coincidentally had closed economies for long periods. China was stricter than India. Does this mean that a country must close its economy to build a foundation on which its economy can prosper? And since China was more harsh than India, they have progressed much more, and faster. Does it follow from this that the stricter a closed economy is, the faster it grows for the benefit of 300 million people (to date)?

He derides the Soviet style countries on their economic failures, but apart from other things, he must admit that those countries had no resources, which rich countries to sponge on, not on the scale that the west had and has even today.

One last question from me, the simple layman.

In a Capitalist economy, if there is no foreign input of stolen/cost-free wealth and resources, how do 300 and 200 million people break out of poverty? Is it at the expense of the rest of the people, either in their own countries or in other countries (see China’s purely capitalistic deals vis-a-vis Sri Lanka).

Sheriff Abdul Rahuman


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