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Are Industrialists The New Age Monarchs?

Posted: October 1, 2020

While our world grows increasingly globalised, are we to simply accept everything? Are there questions about wealth and governance that remain unanswered? Read to find out. 

Have we assumed too much?

We have been thinking that we have moved on from an era of dictatorship and colonial rule, to a more democratic world where citizens have equal opportunities. Consequently, we have also assumed to be living in a safer, healthier and civilized globe, where there is less discrimination based on sex, caste, race and religion.

Here, the vital issue to be contemplated is that are we really on the right track, moving ahead positively to a better world for all?  Do we, as a society engage in self introspection at regular intervals about whether our prevailing democratic set ups are functioning properly?

Has our understanding faltered?

There seems to be a serious problem in our understanding of true democracy, which we have to address at the earliest. Otherwise, there is a danger of human society moving back to the dark ages of dictatorship.

The biggest threat to the present world is monopolized dictatorship. This new age dictatorship is financial in its soul, but has been presented as extremely appealing cultural globalization which will unify the world one day. This phenomenon of masked conquest of the public imagination by the ubiquitous industrialists has almost engulfed the world.

Should we be questioning globalisation?

To begin with, globalization has always been presented as the indispensable path for a better future of the democratic world.  Because, it has visibly made the world, a global village, by redefining connectivity among its citizens.

It has generated large scale employment as well as improved the life style of people and also lifted them up from their earlier held classes. In short, globalization has amalgamated different cultures and has made the world one finally.

However, a number of recent studies show a shocking trend of middle-class eroding slowing and thus widening the gap between rich and poor. As the propaganda agencies have upgraded the socially expected or accepted standard of living, the middle class has been pushed down to the lower strata, especially due to steep hike in education fees, health care and housing.

These expenses have retained the middle class in permanent debt and blurred their minimal joy of life. The multitudes of disappearing middle class have landed themselves in already crowded poor class.

Of course, globalization had germinated the big dreams of better prospects in the middle class mindset in its initial days. But then, thanks to the technology which has made cost effective automation available to the industries, which in turn has started replacing humans in job market. Obviously, the job loss is affecting the middle class the hardest.

The question of wealth distribution

In contrast, the world’s richest own more than half of world’s wealth. Most shockingly, Oxfam report of 2019 reveals that world’s 26 richest people own as much as poorest 50%.  Quite intriguingly, concentration of wealth in fewer hands is happening at an alarming speed. This means, the world is coming into the grip of a few billionaires.

These industrialists have accumulated power larger than the democratically elected governments and have bigger budgets than the national budgets of some countries. These extra constitutional power centres control judiciary and influence judgements (environment related) in their favour. They choose the governments they wish to see in power by funding them and manipulating public opinion accordingly.

Moreover, these big houses have monopolised the market so much so that there is hardly any space left for new players. So, these newbies are left with no other option than merging with or selling to these big corporates. By expunging competitors, they make sure that, only their brands sell. So, customer is not really a king, as his choices are stiflingly confined.

Are industrialists controlling more than we think?

So, the main issue to be deliberated here, are these industrialists new age monarchs in the democratic world? If so, how do we call our set up as democracy? In reality, we are not ruled by the respective governments, but by these industrialists. Since, their policies dictate for us; how do we live, what do we buy, what do we eat, how do we dress up, what should be our short term or long term goals in life, et al. In short, they instill a perspective of life in public, based on their products.

This kind of economic power combined with political patronage is poisonous to a healthy democratic set up. For example, Mukesh Ambani has joined the club of world’s top 10 richest people recently. Back in India, he has monopolized almost all sectors. It means, whatever you buy, money goes to this one man.

So, if this trend continues, we would have a few industrialists ruling the world more visibly and directly (it has already become a reality in the United States), competing with each other for newer territories very soon. If this happens, then the poor will become bonded slaves without any labor rights.

Human history is a cycle, repeats itself and we remain mute spectators.

Image credit- Free-Photos

Dr. Jyothi, Assistant Professor, Department of English, University College of Science, Tumkur University. Has been

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