This morning I read an article about how fracking in Texas is leaving some towns with desperate water shortages . The process of fracking requires large amounts of water, which for an area already suffering a drought, the additional demands on water supplies are leaving local people without enough water for their farms or themselves.
This afternoon I started reading The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell. It is a classic book which is required reading for socialists due to its representation of the life of the labouring classes over a century ago, and for its depiction of the greed and dishonesty of the capitalist system. In the introduction it is stated ‘The effects of Imperialism, Tressell reminded his readers, were by no means confined to distant lands’. Despite the books age this line rings as true today as it did then, perhaps just replacing the word imperialism for ‘Neo-colonialism’.
Neo-colonialism is the last stage of imperialism where by developed nations are able to take control over poorer developing nations, due partly to the framing of developing nations as in many ways ‘underdeveloped’. Neo-Colonialism does not have geographical borders in the same way that Colonialism did. Mainly though, developed nations are able to dominate developing nations because the rich have the power to control international organisations (WTO for example) in supporting their neo-liberalist agenda. It is an agenda which has created an ever widening gap between rich and poor. It gives the wealthy the power to influence national and international policy decisions in favour of business and industry at the expense of people.
It is no surprise to anyone that those in the poorest nations are the ones that most often pay with their health and well-being and sometimes their lives to enable the neo-liberalist system to continue. What is sometimes overlooked is that neo-liberalist economics doesn’t discriminate on the basis of nationality. As a person is commodified through market economics, being a person of little value is the only prerequisite to being exploitable. People in developed nations have some protection afforded by democracy, social support, law and government regulation. But as the people in some of the drought hit towns of Texas have found, when your resources have become more valuable because they are highly desirable for industry, then the relative value of the people in those places falls and consequently their power to force change.
The drudgery of the working classes in The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists at the hands of imperialist practices is mirrored today in the global poor throughout the world. There are fewer in the developed world but the Texas families forced off their land due to lack of water still serve to remind us that there is a bond between people who are judged to be a commodity of little relative value.
- The Great Money Trick (theworkingclassheroes.wordpress.com)
- Air privatisation? – 100 years ago. (think-left.org)