A contribution by C Companyero
We are in a society in a transition from a feudal society to a Society of the Spectacle. (for more read Guy Debord: the Society of the Spectacle).
The poor are scrambling to eat and find shelter from the elements. The rich are scrambling for more and more material possessions. The latest model cell phone, a more expensive car from a more exclusive brand for a more exclusive price. And many liters of fuel free per month. You name it. Does this unbalance make our society better?
Do we live better when we have a second car, a bigger palace, more suitcases with cash under our bed? While at the same time the public infrastructure makes it impossible to shop at the market while keeping your clothes dust free. While we have to avoid beggars left and right. While we know how the average Malawian lives in a mud house with a grass roof. Where there is no protection against floods, drought or other disasters. The poor remain trapped in survival, or worse when the drugs run out. But would not the quality of life for the rich and middle class improve if there were no people so desperately poor? If the average Malawian would get a solid education? If we had health care for all (including drugs)?
What difference does the second latest model expensive cell phone make? Or the next dinner in Latitude Hotel? Or another shopping trip to Dubai? When the public services are below standard, and the population is starving in IDP camps? Where is the limit of greed? And what does the greed serve?
Why do we need imported luxury? Does it improve the lives of the rich if they wear a more expensive imported suit than the other person? Or than the beggar on the corner?
There is no end to it, because the quest for more money, more luxury goods, more status symbols is so empty it never satisfies. There is always another product advertised on DSTV. There is always a person with more. A bigger car. A jet. A bigger house or palace. What good is a white farm with over 80 rooms to a dead man? What good is the luxury that cannot be shared, but needs to be kept away from the people with a private security company (another money spinner!). That needs to be defended against our own house staff? What good is life when the good things are not shared? When we only feel satisfied when we outdo another rich person? This life is not worth living.
Think of the African way, where the good in the village was shared, in the family, in the village and between villages. Where mutual aid, and cooperation were the standard. Where the poorer could count on the richer, and the richer felt good about sharing. Where we were not upset by Western capitalist advertising, by colonial empire, which gave us greed, and inequality. Which excluded us from our own wealth. And now that standard has been taken over by an indigenous class of rulers who forget about their own roots, their standards, their fellow citizens, and only compare the size of the jet with the size of another country’s jet. While the population dies for lack of food and drugs…..