“Of the Half-Billion Poorest Adults in the World, One out of Ten is an American.” The Institute of Policy Studies’ analysis of some new Credit Suisse data on wealth around the world has shown.
This is right in the face of the richest 10 percent of American Adults who have averaged over $1 Million each in new wealth since the 2007 recession. They are mostly white Americans.
Belief in Capitalism and the Market Economy may be crumbling as a result of the growing gap in wealth, which was inevitable. Add to this divide, the racial inequality gap has more than soared.
Now, even the staunchest defenders of Material and Financial Capitalism have had to swallow their saliva in the past few years – the big picture has shown that only Kazakhstan, Libya, Russia, and the Ukraine have worse wealth inequality than the United States.
And for the richest country in the world, which boasts Nuclear Weapons in the thousands, the stats paint a childish vituperative civilization.
How can Africa rein in these relentless mercenaries, the Too Big to Fail Companies and their platoon of lawyers and management consultants, who continue to descend on African soil to plunder what is left of an Africa after Colonial Occupation, without full accountability?
The tipping point for this vast inequality gap might not even be in sight. Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century has shown how privateers from the West, in particular, use Privatization, Debt Creation and Capital Inflation as mechanisms for Rent Extraction, with catastrophic consequences for public services or the common good.
Through the enforcement of the economics of Globalization as a tool for a worldwide market integration, these rent seekers have stretched into every corner of the globe. In an economically growing Africa, they seem to be spreading their tentacles over African resources in more forceful, yet in more crafty, ways than their predecessors – the colonialists.
As many economists have often argued, including the likes of Joseph Stiglitz, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is but one example of globalization’s unrealized potential to eradicate poverty and promote economic growth. It did not have a will to turn East Asia and Russia around during a significant financial turmoil, rather it imposed austere policies that only exacerbated each area’s problems.
How then are African leaders ever ready to trust these global institutions purporting to help, when all the facts point to ‘leopards with a beautiful skin, yet thumping dangerous hearts?’
The more worrying part of the phenomenon is that, Africans themselves, including the ones who claim to have received some education in economics and commerce, do not seem to comprehend the approaching disaster. They have offered no ideas for fixes.
Worse, most African States, with a few exceptions, neither have the manpower nor the will to study, assess and re-evaluate the impending economic catastrophe that the whims and caprices of the Market Economy is about to wreck on the communal fabric of the African existence.
Some have alluded to Labor Economics as a means to an end. So has Piketty.
However, the underlying foundation upon which the exploitation of the masses is based – be it in market economics or labor economics – have not been at all challenged. The reason is a very simple one – no one is ready to upset the apple cart. Poorer yet, most African economists only ruminate on ideas infused in them in graduate school.
So, instead of focusing on the wealth gap as a theme towards the full eradication of poverty, I draw on an ancient African Economic Theory, that has since Colonial Occupation, been incinerated by modern African intellectuals who have been bred and schooled within the corridors of western institutions.
Not that it is their fault, since much of Africa’s Educational System, the way the colonialists envisioned it, is still based on educating those Africans who are most ready to discard the long and tested Traditions of Africa and her Schools of Thought.
One of those august traditions is the Economic Community Theory (The ECT). I examine this in light of the two dominant European ideologies on the tools of economics and the understanding of what growth – economic development – means to any given society.
Much of the thinking that dictates European Economics are two classical scholarships: Karl Max and Adam Smith. From the African Economics perspective, both are terribly wrong in their basic assumption. Still, their overreliance on these assumptions without any roots in the ages of experiment, observation and reason, seem rather rushed and ill-informed.
Fundamentally, both of these theories underpin the Religious Belief Systems of the World Bank and the IMF. These Churches have overly indulged themselves in so-called economic initiatives in Africa that are obviously neither helping to eradicate poverty nor are they concerned with eliminating African dependence on their heavily Assigned Debts.
In short, these religious beliefs have disciples all over Africa, leaders and Heads of State, borrowing at extensive interest rates that are not meaningful when examined against the grain of common sense.
Like Marx, Smith postulates this assumption – the primacy and importance of Production as the defining essence of a society’s economic survival and growth.
The ECT sees this choice as misleading. It describes this choice as a type of misinformation even. The side of a usable coin that postulates Production alone as the axle for economic growth is hiding the wheels of that ideology – Consumption.
This point of view is raised from the fulcrum of the logic of the ECT. That is, for any given society, there is no such process as Production, without the phenomenon of Consumption. The two impute the whole essence of Western Economics.
What do these religious beliefs mean?
First, a thorough expatiation of the Smith-Marx assumptions would show that they are nothing short of the Two Economic Commandments of Yahweh – a God who cares none about Africa and her Peoples.
The ideas behind Production and Consumption are not based in any observable scientific reasoning nor are they based on any given reasons for the sustainability of a given society. Can societies achieve sustainability without the wheels of Production and Consumption churning by the hour?
The answer lies in a systematic analysis of a pure sustainable community.
Hearkening back to African Traditional Societies as a basis without a full context of their historicity would mar the explanation, since as in all human communities, there seems to have always been a fair level of production and consumption without the excesses of the Capital Markets, the Financial Markets and concomitant with them, the Labor Markets.
A concise treatment of the question hence should be found at the most fundamental level of life and existence.
Early human history is a case in point. As with the Fishes in our Oceans, as with the Birds of the Skies, before Western Economics was born, which has put every living thing in jeopardy of extinction, organisms lived and multiplied in exquisite sustainable fashion. Species increased and evolved without the fear of extinction.
For millions of years, the human species did not produce anything. By so doing, they did not have to consume anything produced. But they survived.
Rather than base economic principles on Production and Consumption, which have no roots in the foundations of life and existence, the basic footing of the African Economic Community Theory is solely built on this vital understanding of life and existence. The means for any production and consumption then, only comes to serve special needs and interests, not to replace the cornerstones.
That the ideas of Production and Consumption became the means to an end in Western Economics are not unfathomable. These creeds are completely rooted in commerce, the amassing of wealth and resources, and the exploitation of the masses. This appetite is better known as greed.
The basis of an economically sustainable community then rests fully centered on this explanation, which was given, at length, to the inhabitants of Judea, some two millennia ago, by a man who was born and raised in Africa – Jesus. A man the Christian Tradition would come to find so fascinating that they would posthumously bestow on him the crown of a Savior – the Christ.
“Look at the birds of the skies; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet our heavenly God feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” ~ The New African International Bible.
Through the ages of careful observation, experimentation and reason, African philosophy, captured even more neatly by the Imhotepic Traditions, served the template upon which a sustainable economic theory has been built – the Economic Community Theory.
African science and economic theory prescribe sustainable economics, not destructive production and consumption for their own sake. Jesus’ statement is symptomatic of the economic traditions of the African continent then, and underscores the exercising of Restraint as far as the mere processes of Production and Consumption were concerned.
The foundations hence of the African Economic theory are not in any way based on fanciful conjecture, or are they based on greedy extrapolations, as its European counterparts are – Smith and Marx – but, on careful observation, experimentation and common sense. More notable, they are based on the laws of nature.
This means, no society needs to ultimately sustain itself on the overreliance on Production and Consumption. Put another way, perhaps in more flexible terms, Production and Consumption should be kept at their barest minimums since they rather upset the natural way of life and the sustainability of the Economic Community.
By this token, the ECT stokes a paradigm shift.
Instead of thinking about Production and Consumption as the foundation stone upon which any societal economics should be based, it postulates that rather, sustainable economics should be based on the view that Production and Consumption, are the boundary conditions about which the economic development of a more advanced and a more sophisticated economic community should revolve.
These boundaries settings can be policed through a thorough understanding of Ma’at. However, the scientific principles of Ma’at are sharply beyond the scope of an article that focuses on contrasting African Economic Traditions with Economic Theories of European origin.
Thus, the implications for not accepting the African paradigm has grave consequences. The lack of consideration in Africa, for example, for the ECT, has paved dangerous roads leading many African States into more and more poverty. The Smith-Marx assumptions have become law in Africa and the ramifications, even around the world, are thunderous.
In fact, one inference of this dogma is simply: there is no Price without the willing Buyer. In this way, the choice of making Production sit at the center of Economic Growth immediately leads to the implication that Price and for that matter, Demand, are all that matter.
In this regard, Price can only be set by the Supply and Demand curves. That is to say, there is nothing intrinsically valuable about any particular item, unless of course, there is a willing buyer. Or, unless it becomes of value to a person.
In Adam Smith and Karl Marx’s ideal, in a free trade society, average persons could start businesses, free from government intervention, and Consumers would Purchase from these Producers at a Price determined by the laws of Supply and Demand.
For example, if there is an increase in demand for product A, and a decrease in demand for product B, the price of product A will increase. The increase will occur because as consumers flock to producers to purchase A, the supply will become limited. These higher prices caused by the limited supply allows only the consumers, who are most willing and able to pay, to purchase the product.
In the same vein, the Price, or the value of product B, approaches zero until which point, it is no longer desired by any consumer and the Price, or the value becomes zero.
Furthermore, the Price of the materials for the exclusive production of B therefore falls to zero.
For instance, according to these Western perspectives on economic theory, there is nothing inherently valuable about a Deer in the bush, until someone is willing to kill it for food or even yet, until someone is willing to do whatever he wants to do with it. Without the appetite or the desire to have this animal, by a person, the Deer serves no purpose as far as the Economic Society is concerned.
African Economic Community Theory manifestly opposes this way of thinking. Obviously. In turn, it underscores the intrinsic value of the Deer as part and parcel of the Economic Fabric of the Economic Community in the same way as the Fishes of the Oceans, or the Birds of the Skies, need not have a Human Buyer, at hand, in order that they can become important, or become anything of value.
Insistence on the Demand-Supply curves as the basics of Western Economics is perceptibly erroneous. It does not follow any observable logic except to devalue all matter to a price of zero, unless of course that matter becomes of value to another Human person.
The repercussions of such economic orthodoxy can, and have been, unfathomably painful.
It implies too, that the Human Being is of no value unless of course that Human Being becomes of value to another Human Being. With this ramification, the horrors of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade are reminiscent. Only a few hundred years ago, Human Beings were sold and bought – in particular respect to the Supply-Demand curves – as Property or even Matter. At which point when this Matter became invaluable, a slave owner, uncouth as he may come, could kill the slave – destroy that Property.
That thinking is uncivilized as it is unsustainable. We see why.
In sum, what both Adam Smith and Karl Marx got appallingly incorrect in addition to mistaking Production and Consumption as the basis of the economic community, was to situate the Human Being centrally in thinking about what is economically viable and what is not.
African Economics hence from this point of view strictly disregards this anthropomorphic interpretation in favor of a Holistic Model – one that situates the totality of the ecosystem, the totality of society, at the center of any economic model.
This is the only way to confront the inequality gap and subsequently eliminate poverty in the world. If that is what remains the goal. In Africa, it should.
It also affords society the opportunity to rethink, re-assess and re-evaluate at every step of implementation all economic models to measure not only the levels of poverty and inequality, but in tandem, the levels of unnecessary Production and Consumption.
The Complete Model hence, captured by the Economic Community Theory, explains away the vulgarity and the crudeness of the Western Economic Ideal.
This is why it is possible for Europeans to shoot animals, helter skelter, not for want of food, or for the aesthetics of the hide, but for the sheer pleasance of go-lucky hunting. Today these people alone have depleted more than 50 percent of the world’s species and contributed more than 80 percent of the world’s wastes. They consume more than 60 percent of the world’s resources even though they only account for 15 percent of the world population.
By asserting that there is no demand for a Buffalo in the bush, the European, newly arrived in the Americas, for example, was free to shoot at will and for fun, a Buffalo, for no apparent sustainable reason. That Buffalo in the European Economic thinking had no value and therefore killing it made no difference.
The painful story of Cecil the Lion quickly jumps to mind in recent memory. It reminds the casual reader of the menace that the European attitude poses towards the Environment and towards the Economic Community. Without a market of tourists trooping to see Lions in Africa, without a market of children paying to see Dolphins, Lions in the bush or Dolphins in the Oceans, by the Smith-Marx interpretation have no intrinsic value.
Much in the same way that the lives of millions of American Natives did not matter. When they wouldn’t subject to slavery, they were wiped off the face of the North American terrain at horrific speeds the world had never before seen. The United States is yet to confront the history of genocide.
In more recent times, even when these Western Economic Theories are examined against Recycling drives to save the world’s resources from Western Over-consumption, the paradigm stumbles.
In Europe and North America, there is no argument to recycle unless of course it makes economic sense – that is, if people are willing to pay for the recycled materials. Recycling in itself is not valuable unless people can find value and can consume the recycled materials. Put another way, it makes no sense to Europeans or North Americans, unless Recycling is absolutely cheaper than the Production of new materials.
It doesn’t have to take a Resurrection of Imhotep to make sense of the internal contradictions, or the sheer stupidity, of Western Economics. At best they are savageries. At worst they destroy a planet that Africans have managed to preserve for hundreds of thousands of years without the fear of extinction of species and the destruction of the entire planet.
Having illustrated the internal contradictions and outright monstrosity of the Smith-Marx interpretations of economic growth and sustainability, the fundamental assumptions of the African Economic Community Theory can be stipulated as thus:
Everything in the universe has value – a Price. To use it for the Production of another item, one must prove that the resultant item will be of greater value to the Economic Community – that is, not just to the Human Being, but for the Ecosystem, and as far as the definition can be made to ensure that any set of Production and Consumption models does not go to destructively infringe upon the Rhythm of the Universe.
The principles of marginal utility should be applied with respect to the Economic Community, and not with respect to the Consumer.
Which categorically means: a Deer in the forest, never seen, never met, has an intrinsic value to the Economic Community that is prescribed by the role that the Deer plays in sustainability – taken at face value. The particular numerical price of the Deer hence, is inconsequential to the premise as such. That is, unless the killing of that Deer results in a value that is more beneficial to the Economic Community, that Deer cannot be touched.
This way, the uncouth happy go-lucky killing of innocent animals by westerners can be checked in its proper detail. The pollution of Rivers and other freshwater bodies can thus be protected under this African economics paradigm. The Oceans can be saved and Global Warming can be reversed.
The ECT then is an economic model that sets value to everything and anything so long as it can be found in nature, whether there is demand or not. However, even where there is a Demand, it must show that the result produced adds to the Economic Community in a more constructive way.
As such, there is nothing intrinsically beneficial for the Economic Community about laughing at a Fish you just took out of the River for fun. There is nothing ecologically helpful about Mass Production in the hope that a multitude of Buyers might engage in the Mass Consumption of those goods for fun.
This eradicates waste and reins in the continued ramping up of Production for the sake of production alone. More important, this rids economic theory of the evils of unnecessary Production and Consumption.
Put simply, the Economic Community Model provides the alternative way for African economies to fashion out markets that not only grow, but remain sustainable. A blind pursuit of economic theories on the other hand, which are not native to the continent, have only gone to hurt the social and economic fabric of the masses.
But there seems to be some hope left. African States still hold dear, at various levels, economic theory traditions of old – of Kush, of Nubia, of Kemet etc. – sometimes unbeknownst to them. Even in the current crises of savage economics adopted largely from the remnants of Colonialist and Imperialist policies, the average wealth of the middle class in Africa is a whopping 1000 percent the level of the population.
Africa’s middle class is thriving more than any other region in the world at the moment – in North America, the average wealth of middle-class adults is barely 50 percent the average for all adults. In contrast, middle-class wealth per adult in Europe is 130 percent of the regional average; while the middle class in China is 300 percent better off in wealth terms than the country as a whole.
That statistic is a much better outlook on Africa than the West, where inventors of Financial and Material Capitalism still claim their ways of thinking are uplifting. Indeed.
Africa clearly leads the pack.
What these statistics show is an emerging Africa. Nevertheless, Africa must begin a conscious attempt towards sustainability and not just economic growth rates that seem to be based on nothing but the idiotic foundations in Production and Consumption. That kind of economics – a European economic paradigm – cannot afford African States the opportunity to grow and become sustainable. They are as treacherous as the old Baluba proverb has it: The skin of the leopard is beautiful, but not its heart.
No one – only Africa – is interested in African economic development and her subsequent sustainability. The rest are leopards gallivanting the continent for prey. And they come thumping some very ugly heavy hearts.