Exclusion cultivates resentment

Economic exclusion inevitably causes resentment and alienation. Securing economic advantage through military superiority is wrong. It may have been the way of things for much of human history but moral advance renders it unacceptable today. In the face of disastrous military interventions, many people have lost all faith in the arguments of politicians and their policy decisions, devoid as they are of any moral reflection.

If democracy is unable to prevent the abuse of military power by rich nations, it is no better at holding elites to account over an economic system which favours rich nations over poor. Economic warfare is fought not only on the battlefield, but also in the structures and institutions that have emerged through a neo-colonial system, which has a built-in bias that favours minority wealth and ensures majority insecurity. And it’s not just western elites that have risen to the top of the economic pile through aggressive and unjust actions. The same behaviour is found among elites in some of the poorest nations, the members of which take great pride in aping their former colonial masters.

The inability of developing countries to address poverty and achieve a level of economic development comparable to rich nations is often blamed on corruption. Foreign investment that if properly directed could have a significant impact on development, is siphoned off by corrupt officials to furnish lifestyles to which they feel entitled. But is such behaviour really so different from the rent-seeking activities of elites in rich countries? In the rich countries, institutions have evolved to legitimize the channelling of wealth from those who create it to those who set the rules. Certainly the corruption of some African rulers may be more overt, but it takes years to create a society in which the mechanisms of elite wealth appropriation are successfully hidden from view.

“In the rich countries, institutions have evolved to legitimize the channelling of wealth from those who create it to those who set the rules.”

Encouragingly, cynicism about politics and politicians is growing around the world. People are turning away from politics because they see nothing worth voting for. Many have come to understand that the system is truly bust. Our creaking politics still runs on nineteenth-century ideas of organization, with twentieth-century control-and-command business models. Both are quite unsuited to the technology-driven, knowledge-rich world we inhabit today. Our political operating system needs upgrading with a morality-based inclusive economics. Not until we get the economics right will we get the politics right.

In countries that have long been denied democratic government, the recent overthrow of anti-democratic regimes has revealed the extent to which economies were arranged to serve the interests of the ruling classes. In their struggle to reconfigure their economies along more inclusive lines, the people of countries like Egypt and Libya are encountering the same problems faced by the populations of rich countries, only worse. Not only were their economies geared to serving the interests of their own elites, but they are also intertwined with a global system of economic power continually modified to keep elites in power. While this complicates things for the victors of the Arab Spring, it also confirms that a global approach is vital if economies in all countries are to be reconfigured to better serve the interests of majorities.

In a world where well-oiled media machines display images of privilege and obscene wealth to the poorest people, it’s hardly surprising that growing numbers feel deprived. It’s not just people in the most remote locations who are affected. There is plenty of evidence for the inevitable consequences of exclusion closer to home.


Excerpt from Four Horsemen: The Survival Manual by Mark Braund and Ross Ashcroft.

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Originally published at renegadeinc.com