The Hidden Dagger: Dependency and Vaccine Poverty

We have all, at least once in our life, come across the story of ‘teaching a man to fish’. It says that one must teach a hungry person how to fish rather than giving them fishes. The moral justification is that we will be keeping them dependent on a handout if they don’t learn how to be productive. Capitalism in its basic form is a system that propagates a free-market economy where each individual is subverted to sell his labour at a minimal cost in order to generate a profit for the enterprise. Here, the ideology that one must be responsible for one’s own action and its consequences is adhered. Therefore, in a free-market system one must learn to adapt to the demands of the market and in failing to do so, must suffer the consequent depravations. Poverty and inequality are seen as a natural phenomenon that is essential in a capitalist system that is built on competition and exclusion. Poverty here is but an indicator of a theft. Theft of wealth from a large number of individuals by a very small group of individuals. Here ‘individuals’ is an important term because the system can only function if a person feels alienated from everyone around him, his labour and to himself. The sense of detachment from a collective existence and the concept of, ‘One for herself / himself’ is, according to me, the core of the capitalist system. 

The  most extreme perversion that I observe comes from the concept of philanthropy and charity of a very few wealthy individuals. These individuals are celebrated across the board for their humanitarianism and selflessness. If one observes closely at what really happens during such philanthropic activities at community or multinational level one finds that the individuals who are portrayed selfless are anything but that. They are selfish in the sense that they only seek self-gratification and social recognition. The charity work gives them a feeling of being above others in society, often portrayed as, ‘the person is unlike others and has extremely philanthropic self’. This idea of exceptionalism is a key motivator towards charity, apart from the spiritual gratification one receives from religious giving. At the end of the day, the ‘ends’ of such activities are the ideas of self-emancipation through good deeds, salvation, pride or the most pertinent emotion of guilt. Guilt of inequality and suffering, especially while stepping out of the privileged sphere and directly coming into contact with the tragedy of the system that has been good to them, stirs their heart into giving. Empathy at this level is quite impossible. It is the diametrically opposite life and experience that creates this impossibility. Here the lack of realization or willful ignorance of the theft becomes a source of benevolence of the rich. The fundamental approach of charitable giving is nothing, but handouts masked as donations. The same system that vehemently opposes this act creates a perverted channel for its practice only to perpetuate itself by keeping the poor deprived. This creation of dependence of one group of people on the other is a result of the capitalist system trying to sustain itself. However, an understanding of the dependency is impossible for the deprived class because they, who actively participate in the system, are only allowed to view themselves as individuals and not as collective group of oppressed class. 

Dependency could also be observed among countries in a globalized world. Each country is an individual actor and a group member at the same time. Capitalism, a new form of imperialism, to explain failures of a nation would individualize it and criticize the shortcomings due to its internal structural shortcomings. However, in its effort to rescue these nations, a humanitarian mission undertaken by the neo-imperialist nations, it would group these perceived failed states into a group. This representation deprives the nations its own sense of  identity. It becomes the ‘other’ that must be dominated and controlled for its benefit. The benevolent master in an act of care dictates the functions of the slave. The slave state must not be given all freedom because it does not know what it means to be emancipated. It must be taught how to perform activities by the master and in return the master seeks only obedience and blind faith. These imperialist masters who initially set out expeditions to find resources because of their own depravity have taken up the moral high ground of higher culture and have now evolved into self-proclaimed developed nations with better social systems. The transition is one of efficiency. It became clear that instead of merely exploiting the slave states of their natural resources, it is more profitable to extract the human resources and using them in converting these natural resources into capital that is accumulated by the masters. This pursuit of efficiency in wealth accumulation has birthed the globalized world we now suffer in. It is no longer profitable to ship resources, therefore, they only ‘mine’ the capital. Mining is the apt term for the activity of exploitation from both sides. What do these masters control now? The flow of capital and the abstract property of human intellect. To have control over resources it was necessary for the system to produce a property that is purely abstract and inhumane. The intellectual property rights, the new-age slavery, is the new tool of exploitation. It denies a country from becoming independent and enterprising on its own. It prevents the de-linking of countries, as Samir Amin proposed, from happening. To remain a player in the globalized capitalist system, the slave states must submit to the whims of the masters. Masters are deceitful and do not directly exercise their dominion. They do it through their proxies, the numerous developmental organizations. Organizations that present the goodwill with conditions, a trick used by the colonizers in dominating Africa and Asia in the colonial pasts. Giving them the capital and setting up an impossible condition to ever be debt free. 

The hegemonic west has always had the interest of its domination cloaked in the form of its emancipatory mission towards the so called ‘third world’. Like the philanthropist, these neo-imperialist nations create the necessary conditions for depravations and inequality to display their benevolence. Denying India, which is capable of producing its own vaccines, the necessary raw materials for creating vaccines in the view of securing ‘Nationalist interest’. On the other hand, these developed nations take up the moral high ground and their mission of emancipating the ‘lesser countries’ by donating vaccines as aid. These numbers add up to the aid contributions of these masters and in reality, is a display of domination. It keeps these slave states dependent and subservient to its masters. The poverty of vaccination is then portrayed through the media and culture industry as the failures of individuals and the socio-political systems that has developed in these countries. This is social Darwinism practiced at a multi-national level among the states. The elites of the country, the only real beneficiary of these policies, are then portrayed as the philanthropists who ‘donate’ their property for the public good. Subversion is the tactics of the dominators and deceit is their modus operandi. The hand that appears to feed us holds the ‘hidden dagger’ that strikes us down. If at all, we manage to rise, they no longer have anyone to feed and experience their domination.

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