Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Brothers and sisters of the soul unite
We are one, indivisible and strong
They may try to break us
But they dare not underestimate us
They know our memories are long
A mass of sleeping villages
That’s how they’re pitching it
At least that’s what they try to pretend
But check out our history
So rich and revolutionary
A prophecy
That we will rise again!

Like springing tigers
We encircle the cities
To the future we will take an oath
High up in the mountains
Deep in the forest
Our home is the undergrowth.

And we must never give up
Until the land is ours
No never give in
’til we have taken the power.

Because, I am just a naxalite warrior
Fighting for survival and equality
Policeman beating up me, my brother and my father
My mother crying ’can’t believe this reality’

Iron like a lion from zion
This one going out to all youth, man and woman
Original master ’d’ ’pon the microphone stand
Cater for no sceptical man me don’t give a damn!

’cos me a naxalite warrior.....

Long Live Revolution!

Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa

I came accross this movie review while surfing the internet. It's a well written review about a seemingly good movie.


Have a good reading.


In Solidarity!




Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa

*ing: Jaya Bachchan, Nandita Das, Seema Biswas, Anupam Kher and Joy Sengupta

Director: Govind Nihalani

Six years back when I visited India, I saw a poster of a movie Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa (Mother of 1084) at the Novelty Cinema located in Hazrat Ganj, Lucknow. The cinema was not a third rate one, but I didn't go inside to see the film. However, some two months back, when I was roaming around Rainbow Centre in the metropolis of Karachi, the same poster with the same title passed from my eyes, and I bought the movie, because this is one of those films that look very arty and innocuous, but if you have been initiated into good cinema, they merit a watch.

Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa is directed by Govind Nihalani and is based on a seminal novel by the formidable Mahasweta Devi. It is scripted faithfully and keeps in mind the human truth of the Naxalbari Movement, waged on May 25, 1967, in the Darjeeling area – a completely agricultural land of West Bengal, India – for getting minimum wages for agricultural workers. During the time of CPI–M's coalition government, the movement spread quickly and finally it reached the main cities of West Bengal, especially Calcutta – the capital of the state.

In Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa, the Calcutta of the 1970s is captured when the air was alive with revolutionary fervour and Bengali youth reacted with anger against hypocrisies, injustices, betrayals and counter violence of the State. During this period, the city was in grip of a Marxist–Leninist–Maoist movement of liberating the downtrodden farmers from the iron clinch of upper class landlords. Thousands of young men were arrested and many were shot dead. A special force, organised by the government to tackle these young revolutionaries, was given the authority to use brute force to handle the situation.

The movie begins with a phone call asking the mother of a Naxalite, Sujata Chatterjee (Jaya Bachchan) to come to a morgue to recognise her son's corpse. The body has been reduced to a mere numerical, corpse no. 1084. Her 22–year–old son named Bratti Chatterjee (Joy Sengupta) was a scion of an educated, cultured bhadralok family and, by every means, was a firebrand Marxist. He was in close contact with the leading members of the Naxalbari Movement that was led by the Communist Party of India.

Though she is many ways a traditional housewife, Sujata is shown as the most powerful character in the movie. She also works for a commercial bank in Calcutta and belongs to an upper middle class family. Her husband Dibyanath Chatterjee (Anupam Kher) is a typical businessman, who believes in saluting the powerful. The story really starts unravelling when Sujata comes to know that the death of her son was at the hands of certain members of the Calcutta police. She decides to investigate what really happened to her son and his friends and comrades.

On the journey of discovering her son's militant revolutionary commitment and to understand his struggle against the exploitative system, that is feudalism–cum–capitalism, Sujata begins to realise that she herself is alienated as a woman, housewife and mother from the bourgeois social values prevailing in the social circles of Calcutta. It is her story and her realisations as an individual that form the heart of Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa.

It is difficult for a person like me to remember when I was so disturbed by the depths and insights shown in any Indian movie lately. Yes, watching Chandni Bar, The Terrorist, or The Legend of Bhagat Singh (Raj Kumar Santoshi's version) gave me much food for thought, but this Govind Nihalani venture, which circles the revolutionary political consciousness of the region's Leftist youth made me an insomniac for some days. Sometimes, a film transcends your objective critical faculties and touches that rare chord of emotion. That is the point where you get absorbed in the emotional trauma of the story depicted in a particular movie to make you realise that 'People of this kind have also lived their lives for a cause.'

It also makes you think about the real events on which the film is based and when the context of such a movie was produced by a director like Nihalani, the whole story makes such an impact on you, it can cut your heart into two and stun your brain with emotional shock. And then it makes you think and re evaluate your own value system Playing an intense role of Mrs. Sujata Chatterjee, Jaya, in an attempt to regain a sense of self from the intense psychological and emotional trauma, gains some deep insights, through the whole course of the movie, into a complex relationship between personal and apolitical aspects of her social life. Though, the film proceeds on a slow and reflective pace so as to be proper to its conversational approach, which is of such a length that all characters gradually open their minds and hearts to viewers regarding the lamentable family loss in particular, and the state of their society, in general.

The dusky beauty Nandita Das, who was so effective in Deepa Mehta's controversial film Fire, plays a marvellous role of an idealist believer of Marxism. Being a revolutionary figure she goes beyond her personal grief to become an uncompromising fighter against the atrocities of police. Do concentrate on the scene where Jaya visits her son's girlfriend Nandani Mitra (Nandita Das) who is also a member of the movement. Nandani recalls memories of Bratti and helps Sujata connect with her dead son. They 'meet' one another in a real emotional, loving and caring way – for the last time. The scene is handled beautifully. After all, Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa is not your standard Bollywood potboiler.

The film goes back and forth in time, with flashbacks of Bratti, when the mother relives those moments and finds the clues for her state of mind, which she had not noticed before. It is easy to quibble and wonder how a working woman of Calcutta of those times could be so blind, so uninformed and so apolitical, but then, the way the film translates the novel makes Sujata's self–wrought isolation, not only understandable but also representative of a certain social segment, which wants to have nothing to do with politics.

Seema Biswas (the mother of Somu, who was a comrade of Bratti) plays the role of a low class Bihari woman whose son has also been killed during the same clash in which Bratti was murdered. The scene when Sujata visits Somu's place first time is enough to disturb anyone who has a soft heart and inflict great pain on someone who knows the real history of the movement. The way the two mothers mourn their loss brings out the class and cultural differences. Seema Biswas is warmly uninhibited – both in grief and expression of affection – and Jaya Bachchan contains her feelings, which gradually reveal themselves in all their complexity, rather than the usual cathartic outburst.

But there are flaws in this gem of a film. A scene in which Bratti beats an outlaw seems so childishly filmed. The way he is beating him gives you a feeling that the director has failed to capture the scene of a real clash. Action is not a forte of Govind Nihalani, not even when it is as raw as this.

Another sequence which seems uselessly prolonged, compared to the smooth dramatic flow and astonishing poetic transitions, comes during the crucial interaction between the two women – Sujata and Nandani, the grieving mother and the resolute sweetheart, whose torture by the police has hardened her resolve into steely strength. It is the younger woman who gives the older woman the courage to do something purposeful with her life, but the scene does drag.

But then there is one scene that more than makes up for all shortcomings. It is when a party is held at the Chatterjee House to celebrate the engagement of Bratti's sister on the eve of his second death anniversary. The dialogue narrated by Sujata in the background shows the intense condition of her state of mind. The scene also shows the naked reality of the capitalist system and becomes extremely critical against the attitudes of the elite class. Incidentally, Nihalani shoots this scene like an extended piece of satire, when a lot of noted stage and screen names play brilliant cameos in a charade of social pretension and hypocrisy.

Govind Nihalani has always tried to fuse his political consciousness with cinema and proves that he is presently one of the sub–continent's most politically daring filmmakers. He is also famous for depicting sensitive issues existing in Indian society. From the intense characterisation in Aakrosh to the dramatic depiction of the psyche of angry anti–establishment lads holding AK–47s in Drohkaal, Nihalani has proved his worth as a director. Though, he over-sensationalised the characters in Dev, but people still have good hopes for new artistic pieces.

Not to over–estimate Nihalani's wonderful personality as a director by regarding him as a sensitive and sober director in Bollywood, I think it was his artistic capabilities and Jaya Bachchan's impressive facial expressions, which helped Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa win the National Award for Best Regional Feature Film in 1998.

"Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please," Marx famously wrote. I think this statement does imply on Indian directors too. In the process of making such movies, Nihalani is trying to make his own history as an alternative revolutionary director, though he cannot write it just as he pleases.

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Monday, October 24, 2005

When the mountains mourn By Amar Jaleel

Was the earthquake a punishment from God or just nature’s way of trimming the population?

Pompeii, a Roman port and a resort in Italy for the sensuous pleasures of the rulers, the rich and the commanders of the world conquering legions was violently jolted by a massive earthquake in AD63. Much of the city of pomp, power and grandeur was destroyed.

The Romans recovered from the shock, restored what was devastated and commenced the life of luxury and lust. Within 15 years the lechers erased the dreadful memory of the frightening earthquake, as if it was a nightmare. One night when the elites, rulers and the generals were immersed in pleasure, Mount Vesuvius, a nearby volcano erupted hell that lit the sky above. Pompeii was completely buried beneath the smouldering lava. Its ruins now constitute one of the major tourist attractions in Italy.

It is generally believed to this day that the earthquake, and then the volcanic eruption was a punishment that God inflicted on the sinners of Pompeii. It is a common belief among the followers of different religions. They maintain that God punishes the wayward, the misled and the ones who go astray. They defy His Commandments and in return are scourged. Natural disasters are always taken in this context by the adherents of the various faiths.

Thomas Robert Malthus, social scientist and an economist advocated that population increases faster than food supply. When the population outgrows food production, the nature steps in and checks the population through disasters such as epidemics, earthquakes, hurricanes and volcanic eruptions. According to Malthus, only the required number of people survive a holocaust for whom the food is sufficient. All along Malthus had not been able to provide a convincing foundation to his theory. His hypothesis was rejected and turned down by both the physical as well as the social scientists. Medicinal checks on population have proved more effective than the natural checks.

From times immemorial, man has tried his hand at giving some kind of definition to the phenomenon beyond his comprehension. He associates most of the explanations with his faith and belief. He pays no heed to the scientific interpretations for the natural calamities. He attributes a ritual meaning to the solar and lunar eclipses. Man is on the record to have worshipped anything that inspired awe within him. He worshipped oceans because the immenseness frightened him. He worshipped lightening. He worshipped huge mountains. He worshipped volcanoes. He worshipped trees. He worshipped serpents. He worshipped fire. He worshipped rivers. He worshipped the sun and the moon.

Later on when he comprehended what had remained unexplained to him, he abandoned the gods he had worshipped out of his own enigma. His creativity later on induced him for making images of the deities he had never seen, a man with a bull’s head, man with a lion’s limbs, man with a pair of wings, man with several arms and heads, and so on. Of all such images the most revered image is that of Ganesh, a god with the body of a man and head of an elephant.

The scientific age of today has not altered the fundamental thinking of man. He very strongly believes that the volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and rest of the natural disasters are God’s punishment that he inflicts on the disobedient. While respecting other peoples’ faiths and beliefs, let us take an academic view of Pompeii’s devastation.

The rich and the influential who indulged in all sorts of sensuous pleasures were not the only residents of Pompeii. The port resort was inhabited by large number of servants, maids, slaves, gardeners, guards and the foot soldiers who protected the palaces. They were the wretched, insulted and humiliated souls on the soil of the sinners. If God had intended to punish the evildoers, then He, in His all providence, could have saved the poor from the holocaust. Thereby, He would have shown to the world that he punishes the sinners and doesn’t touch the innocent.

In Pompeii’s devastation a large number of servants and the slaves perished along with a handful of debauches. God couldn’t have been that callous. What struck Pompeii were two natural disasters, an earthquake and a volcanic eruption.

I have been constantly listening and reading in the newspapers ever since the devastating earthquake played havoc with Pakistan in the North that the holocaust was God’s punishment for our sins. Man doesn’t desist from attributing his wishful thinking to the Creator. He wants Allah to speak his language. The hundreds of thousands of men, women and the children who perished in Abbotabad, Mansehra, Balakot, Bagh, Muzaffarabad, and the surrounding towns and villages were men of moderate means. Most of them belonged to the lower income group who had to strive for their survival. They did not belong to the coterie of corrupt bureaucrats, funds usurpers, swindlers of banks, and kickback receivers with bank accounts in distant lands. The mountain people were not the drugs dealers. They were clean people with clean conscience.

We have Pompeiis in some of the so-called posh localities in Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad, patronized and frequented by the rich and the influential. Why would God bury alive the children of the mountain people in their schools for the sins committed by the prosperous evildoers elsewhere in the Pompeiis of Pakistan!

(Dawn Magazine; October 23, 2005)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Let the Cuban doctors come to Pakistan!

Rahimullah Yusufzai


A BBC TV report by Gavin Hewitt from Abbottabad highlighted the plight of overworked doctors as they try to cope with an unending flow of people injured in the October 8 earthquake. One of the younger surgeons said he had performed around 100 amputations on patients with gangrenous limbs. Senior surgeon Dr Sahibzada made a telling parting remark. He said instead of money (he used the word pound) there was a need for skilled doctors to undertake the mounting load of work at the Ayub Teaching Hospital, Abbottabad and other hospitals in the quake-affected region.


We must seek advise from people such as Dr Sahibzada while making contingency medical plans to cope with the tragedy that has struck Pakistan. He and his colleagues need helping hands to treat patients and perform surgeries. This reminds one of the generous offer made by President Fidel Castro of Cuba to send 200 doctors specialised in natural disasters and serious epidemics to help the earthquake affectees. The Cuban government has made it clear that it would bear all expenses relating to transportation of the doctors while requisite stock of medicines would also be sent to Pakistan.


It is learnt that the Pakistan government has conveyed to Cuba that it wants 50 doctors only. One hopes Islamabad would review its decision and let all 200 doctors come to Pakistan. We need many more doctors, nurses and paramedics in view of the unprecedented scale of the death and destruction wrought by the earthquake. Hundreds of injured people are flocking to hospitals in Azad Kashmir, Mansehra, Battagram, Abbottabad, Dassu, Swat, Peshawar and even Rawalpindi-Islamabad and Lahore. A UN report said 1,000 hospitals, mostly small ones, in Pakistan have been destroyed in the earthquake, prompting the government to make an urgent appeal to the international community for field hospitals, antibiotics, anti-typhoid medicines, fracture treatment kits, and surgical equipment.


One is sure the Cubans would be able to contribute a lot toward meeting this need. Their doctors have served in Third World countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia and have done commendable work to earn the affection of their patients and the gratitude of numerous communities and governments. They also possess experience in working in tough conditions and dealing with natural disasters and epidemics. The Cubans are best suited to working in conditions prevailing in poor developing countries such as Pakistan.


They have proved time and again that good results could be achieved with minimum resources. Despite US-sponsored economic sanctions and limited resources, Cuba has been able to offer its citizens an efficient health delivery system that has earned praise from international organizations.


In fact, we could learn a lot from the Cuban doctors and medical administrators and apply some of the lessons learnt to improve our hopelessly inadequate health delivery system. A number of countries have benefited from the Cuban experience and Pakistan too would gain rather than lose anything by experimenting with methods employed by Mr Castro's revolutionary government to build one of the best health delivery systems in the world. By opting not to benefit from the well-meaning and generous Cuban offer, Pakistan would be depriving its hapless earthquake affectees of an opportunity to benefit from badly needed medical treatment at the hands of men and women who have worked in places hit by natural calamities and epidemics. Rather it would be cruel to ask President Castro not to send Cuban doctors to Pakistan, or dispatch only 50. We need each one of those 200 Cuban doctors waiting to fly to Pakistan for the sake of the thousands of injured quake victims lining up at overcrowded hospitals and losing precious time that could save lives.


The writer is an executive editor of The News in Peshawar

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Monday, October 17, 2005

State and Earthquake Relief Effort

The earthquake disaster is expected to grow with the arrival of winters, if government does not take any substantial measures for the earthquake victims. Snowfall has already been reported from some affected areas. Situation is getting worse with the passage of time due to weather conditions. According to General Musharraf, the death toll is likely to rise beyond 38,000 (

"When we go into these villages of the Neelum and Jhelum river valleys, I am reasonably sure it is going to rise," said General Musharraf. The expression that "they" have not reached the villages of Neelum and Jhelum by now gives a very clear impression of the efforts of government.

I am highly impressed by the concern of the general population of Pakistan for the earthquake victims. They have donated generously for the relief efforts. I heard one of my elders mention that such mobilization of people was last seen in 1969, resulting in the resignation of Ayub Khan. However, the role of state has been highly disappointing through out in the last eight or nine days. I do not wish to start blaming at the present but it is truly very frustrating.

With one million organized men under his control, General Musharraf, who also calls himself the President of Pakistan, has not been able to manage the aid collected by the civilians after enormous labor. Army, at present, is the only institution that has the information, means, and resources to deal with the problem of distribution in the affected area in a appropraite manner. No NGO or a political party is in a position as effective as that of army. Yet, there are villages and towns that are not yet touched by the army men. I do not intend to say that army present in the affected areas is not doing anything. But look at their quantity. If General Musharraf had sent around 50-75% of the army on the second day after earthquake, situation might have been different. At least, relief workers in the affected areas would not have asked their counter-parts in the unaffected areas to stop sending aid.

It is inspiring to see that small groups of volunteers have started visiting the earthquake hit areas, knowing that they might not be able to make significant difference. They are obviously not organized as such and lack proper resources and information to deal with the problems. It is the trustless attitude of the people towards the army, that they are undertaking the relief efforts in their own hands.

Comrades, civilians have played and are playing their part in collecting relief goods in a commendable way. The part played by the state is contributing towards the misery of earthquake victims that make them believe that the rest of Pakistan does not care.

General Musharraf should mobilize the army on war scale to deal with the earthquake disaster. That might justify the portion of budget spent on defense each year. The arrival of winters is going to be highly dangerous for those who have no shelter. If something significant is not done immediately, then Musharraf is correct in his "reasonable" analysis that the death toll is going to increase. Isn't this earthquake a loud enough noise to make the deaf hear?

This earthquake is a lesson for the general population of Pakistan. The interests of state are significantly different from that of people. It's a matter of time alone, when the people will rise to over-throw these unconcerned rulers to govern themselves through a people's government.

In Solidarity!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Dialectical and Historical Materialism By J. V. Stalin

Dialectical materialism is the world outlook of the Marxist-Leninist party. It is called dialectical materialism because its approach to the phenomena of nature, its method of studying and apprehending them, is dialectical, while its interpretation of the phenomena of nature, its conception of these phenomena, its theory, is materialistic.

To read the full paper, please visit

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


Every year since 1990, the United Nations publishes its Human
Development Report. It contains the most authoritative data on the
state of the world. These reports are available online: Based on those
reports (referred to by year, followed by page), what does our world
look like?


We live in a capitalist world. Capitalism is a very dynamic system
that produces a tremendous amount of wealth. Never has the world been
so rich.

Global output increased more than eleven fold between 1850 and 1960,
from $611 billion to $6,936 billion in 1993 dollars. The world's
population more than doubled during the same period, rising from 1.2
billion in 1850 to 3 billion in 1960. The net outcome: nearly a
fivefold increase in per capita income. During the same period, the
goods and services produced in the industrial countries expanded
nearly thirty fold, from $212 billion to $6,103 billion (1996, 12)

Between 1960 and 1993, global income increased from $4 trillion to $23
trillion, and per capita income more than tripled. (1996, 12) If
trends continue, it should grow form 23 trillion in 1993 to 56
trillion in 2030. (1996, 36)

Global GDP increased nine folds from $3 trillion to $30 trillion over
the past 50 years. (1999, 25)

It has allowed a huge development of consumerism. Private and public
consumption expenditure reached $24 trillion in 1998, twice the level
of 1975 and six times that of 1950. In 1900, real consumption
expenditure was barely $1.5 trillion. (1998, 1)


But capitalism has made the world a very unequal place.

The people living in the 20% richest countries in the world have 86%
of global GDP (global income), 82% of world export markets, 68% of
Foreign Direct Investment. (1999, 3)

The richest 1% of the world received as much income as the poorest
57%. The richest 10% of the US population (around 25 million people)
have a combined income greater than that of the poorest 43% of the
world population (around 2 billion people). (2001, 19; 2003, 39)

The poorest 40% of the world's population account for 5% of global
income, the richest 10% account for 54%.(2005, 4)

The 20% of the world's people in the high income countries account for
86% of total private consumption expenditure. The poorest 20% for a
mere 1.3%.

The richest fifth consume 45% of all meat and fish, 58% of total
energy, 65% of electricity, 84% of all paper, have 74% of phone lines
and own 87% of the world’s vehicle fleet. The poorest fifth
5%, less than 4%, 1.1%, 1.5%, and less than 1% of all this. (1998, 2)

The poorest 20% of the world's people saw their share of the global
income decline from 2.3% to 1.4% in the past 30 years, meanwhile the
share of the richest 20% rose from 70% to 85%. (1996, 2)

Capitalism not only creates inequality, but it increases it both
between and within countries. The income gap between the richest
countries and the poorest countries was a ratio of 1:3 in 1820. This
increased to 1:7 in 1870 and 1:11 in 1913. In 1960 it was 1:30 and in
1990 1:60. In 1997 it was 1:74. (1999, 3)

Measured at the extremes, the gap between the average citizen in the
richest and in the poorest countries is wide and getting wider. In
1990 the average American was 38 times richer than the average
Tanzanian. Today the average American is 61 times richer. (2005, 37)

A Zambian today has less chance of reaching thirty years of age than
someone born in England in 1840. (2005, 4, 26)


A study of 77 countries with 82% of the world's population shows that
between the 1950s and the 1990s, inequality rose in 45 of those
countries and fell in 16 countries. (2001, 17)

Inequality within countries has been increasing over the last 30
years. Among the 73 countries with data (and 80% of the world's
people), 48 have seen inequality increase since the 1950s, 16 have
experienced no change, and only 9 (with 4% of the world's people) have
seen inequality fall. (2002, 20)

Between the 1980s and the late 1990s inequality increased in 42 of 73
countries with complete and comparable data. Only 6 of the 33
development countries saw inequality decline, while 17 saw an
increase. "In other words, within national boundaries, control over
assets and resources is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a
few people." (2003, 39)

Inequality is on the increase in countries which account for 80% of
the world's population. (2005, 6)

Between 1979 and 1997, US real GDP per capita grew 38%, but the income
of a family with median earnings grew only 9%. So most of the gain was
captured by the very richest people, with the incomes of the richest
1% of families growing 140%, three times the average. The income of
the top 1% of families was 10 times that of the median family in 1979
and 23 times in 1997. (2002, 20)


The USA has the same infant mortality rate as Malaysia, a country with
an average income one quarter that of the USA. And the Indian state of
Kerala has an infant death rate lower than that for African Americans
in Washington DC. (2005, 58)


At the end of the 1970s, the richest 10% of the UK population received
21% of total disposable income. Twenty years later, it received 28%,
nearly was much as for the entire bottom half of the population.
Average annual incomes for the richest 20% increased at about ten
times the rate for the poorest 20%. (3.8% compared with 0.4%) The UK's
GINI coefficient climbed from 25 to 35 by the mid-1990s, one of the
biggest increases in inequality in the world. (2005, 68)


As a system, capitalism does not work for the vast majority of the
world's population; it fails to provide for their basic needs.

Of the 4.4 billion people in developing countries, nearly three fifth
lack basic sanitation. A third have no access to clean water. A
quarter do not have adequate housing. A fifth no access to health
services. (1998, 2)

More than one billion people lack access to safe water. (2005, 24)
More than 2.6 billion lack access to improved sanitation. (2005, 24)
More than 850 million people, including one in three preschool
children suffer from malnutrition. (2005, 24)

$1 A DAY

One in five people in the world, more than one billion, still survive
on less than $1 a day in abject poverty. (2005, 24) "Living on $1 a
day does not mean being able to afford what $1 would buy when
converted into a local currency, but the equivalent of what $1 would
buy in the United States, a newspaper, a local bus ride, a bag of
rice." (2003, 41)

Another 1.5 billion people live on $1-2 a day. (2005, 24) "One fifth
of humanity lives in countries where many people think nothing of
spending $2 a day on capuccino. Another fifth of humanity survives on
less than $1 a day and live in countries where children die for want
of a simple anti-mosquito bed net." (2005, 3)


There are 854 million illiterate adults, 543 million of them women,
325 million children (one in seven) out of school at primary and
secondary levels, 183 million of them girls. (2001, 9) More than one
billion people live without adequate shelter, sanitation, electricity,
and there are 100 million people homeless sleeping in the street.


But capitalism allows a tiny minority to accumulate a vast amount of

The 350 largest companies in the world account for 40% of global trade
and their turnover exceeds the GDP of many countries.

The turnover of General Motors ($168.8 billion) exceeds that of the
GDP of Denmark ($146.1 billion).

The turnover of Ford ($137.1 billion) exceeds the GDP of South Africa
($123.3 billion).

The turnover of Toyota ($111.1 billion), Exxon ($110 billion) and
Royal Dutch/Shell ($109.8 billion) exceeds the GDP of Norway, Poland
and Portugal ($109.6, $92.8, and $91.6 billion respectively).

The turnover of IBM ($72 billion) is greater than that of Malaysia
($68.5 billion). The combined assets of the top five corporations
($871.4 billion) is greater than that of the combined GDP of South
Asia ($451.3 billion), Sub-Saharan Africa ($246.8 billion) and least
developed countries ($76.5 billion). (1997, 92)


Between 1989 and 1996 the number of billionaires increased from 157 to
447. Today the net wealth of the ten richest billionaires is $133
billion, more than 1.5 times the total national income of all the
least developed countries. (1997, 38)

The world's 200 richest people more than doubled their net worth in
the four years to 1998, to more than $1 trillion. The assts of the top
three billionaires are more than the combined GNP of all least
developed countries and their 600 million people. (1999, 3)

The world's 225 richest people have a combined wealth of over $1
trillion, equal to the annual income of the poorest 47% of the world
($2.5 billion). It is estimated that the cost of achieving and
maintaining universal access to education for all, health care for
all, reproductive health care for all women, adequate food for all and
safe water and sanitation for all is roughly $40 billion a year (0.1%
of world income). This is less than 4% of the combined wealth of the
225 richest people in the world. (1998, 30)


The material resources to end poverty and inequality are there.

To provide universal access to basic social services and transfers to
alleviate income poverty with efficient targeting would cost roughly
$80 billion. That is less than 0.5% of global income and less than the
combined net worth of the seven richest men in the world. (1997, 112)

Redistributing 1.6% of the income of the richest 10 percent of the
global population would provide the $300 billion needed to lift the
one billion people living on less than a dollar a day out of extreme
poverty. (2005, 4)


However, meeting the basic needs of the world's population is not a
priority for capitalism.

The annual expenditure necessary to provide basic education for all
around the world is $6 billion. In comparison, the annual expenditure
for cosmetics in the USA is $8 billion.

Annual expenditure to provide water and sanitation for all is $9
billion. In comparison the annual expenditure on ice cream in Europe
is $11 billion. The annual expenditure to provide reproductive health
for all women is $12 billion. In comparison, the annual expenditure on
perfumes in Europe and the USA is $12 billion.

Annual expenditure necessary to provide basic health and nutrition is
$13 billion. In contrast, annual expenditure on pet foods in Europe
and USA is $17 billion. Compared to all those, annual military
spending in the world is $780 billion. (1998, 37)

For every $1 that rich countries spend on aid, they allocate $10 to
military spending. Current spending on HIV/AIDS, a disease that claims
3 million lives per year, represents three days' worth of military
spending (2005, 8)

The $7 billion needed to provide 2.6 billion people with access to
clean water is less than European spends on perfume and less than
Americans spend on elective corrective surgery. This is for an
investment that would save an estimated 4,000 lives each day. (2005,


This is because capitalism is a system based on profit rather than
need. Food production has increased and prices fallen.

"If all the food produced worldwide were distributed equally, every
person would be able to consume 2,760 calories a day -- hunger is
defined as consuming under 1,960 calories a day." (2003, 87)

But as a result of the operations of capitalism, every day, 800
million people (almost one in five) go hungry, and every year ten
million people die of hunger.


Millions of people are in desperate need of medicines. But as the
pharmaceutical industry is capitalist in nature, less than 10% of
global spending on health research addressed 90% of the global disease
burden and health problems of 90% of the world's people. (2002, 7)
People dying of hunger in a world where there has never been so much
food, and people dying because they lack essential medicines because
less than 10% of global spending on health research and production
addresses 90% of the global disease burden shows that a system based
on profit rather than need is irrational and inhuman.


The human costs of maintaining the present system are far too high.
Every year, 10.7 million children died before five of preventable
causes (2005, 24) This means that every hour of everyday, 12000
children die of preventable causes. (2005, 1)

In the 1990s the number of children killed by diarrhea exceeded the
number of people killed in armed conflicts since the Second World War.
(2003, 104)

Some 500,000 women die in pregnancy or childbirth each year, one for
every minute of the day. In Sub-Saharan Africa, a woman is one hundred
times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than in a
high-income OECD country. (2003)


The environmental costs of maintaining capitalism are also too high.
The problem is that corporations resist regulations and do not take
into account damage to the environment; resulting in water scarcity,
deforestation, desertification, pollution and natural disaster.
Annual carbon dioxide emissions quadrupled over the past 50 years.
Sulphur dioxide emissions have more than doubled during the same
period. (98, 4)

Burning of fossil fuels has almost quintupled since 1950, consumption
of fresh water has doubled since 1960, marine catch has increased
fourfold, wood consumption is now 40% higher than 25 years ago.
(1998, 2)

In industrial countries, per capita waste generation has increased
threefold in the past 20 years. Water's global availability has
dropped from 17,000 cubic meters per capita in 1950 to 7,000 today.

A sixth of the world's land area (2 billion hectares) is degraded as a
result of poor farming since 1945. Forests are shrinking, since 1970
the wooded area per 1,000 people has fallen from 11.4 square kilometer
to 7.3. Some eight million to ten million acres of forest land are
lost each year.

Fish stocks are declining with about a quarter in danger of depletion
and another 44% being fished at their biological limits. Wild species
are becoming extinct 50 to 100 times faster than they would naturally.
(1998, 4)

And during 1967-1993 natural disasters affected three billion people
in developing countries with more than seven million deaths and two
million injuries. At current rate of loss, 15% of the earth's species
could disappear over the next 25 years. (1996, 26)

Air pollution is a serious problem for 700 million people, primarily
women and children. 2.7 million deaths each year from air pollution
(1998, 5)


A common objection is that capitalism might not be good, however there
are no alternatives. Socialism does and did not work, the fact that
countries in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union abandoned it
and adopted capitalism proves it.

However, the UN's Human Development Reports show the achievements and
successes of socialism. It notes that socialism was one of the world's
history's "great ascent from human poverty". "There have been two
great ascents from human poverty in recent history: the first in
industrial countries during the late 19th and the early 20th
centuries, and the second in developing countries, Eastern Europe and
the former Soviet Union after the Second World War. They had similar
elements, but the second had a larger scale and a faster timetable.
Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union made advances: infant
mortality was reduced by half, from 81 to 41 per 1,000 live births.
Life expectancy increased from 58 to 66 years for men and from 63 to
74 years for women. And income poverty was declining. In Hungary
between the early 1960s and 1972, the proportion of people living
below the poverty line fell from 60% to 14%". (1997, 25)


If we compare similar countries today on the basis of Human
Development Indicators, socialist China and capitalist India, or
socialist Cuba and capitalist Latin America, the achievements
successes of socialism compared to capitalism are evident.

Since 1949, China has made impressive reductions in human poverty.
Between 1949 and 1995 it reduced infant mortality from 200 per 1,000
live births to 42 per 1000 live births, and increased life expectancy
at birth from 35 years to 69. Today almost all children go to school
and adult illiteracy, 80% in the 1950s has fallen to 19%. The
incidence of poverty from widespread fell to 9% in the 1980s. Hunger
has been totally eradicated. (1997, 49-50)

By contrast, in India, 53% of children under age four, 60 million,
remain undernourished. Infant mortality is 74 per 1,000 live births,
and there are each year 2.2 million infant deaths, most of them
avoidable. Rural poverty is 39% and urban poverty 30%. Half the
population is still illiterate. Life expectancy is 61, eight years
less than China. (1997, 51-52)

In China, public spending on education is 2.3% of GDP while that on
health is 2.1% of GDP. The outcomes for human development are clear.
Literacy stands at 84%, infant mortality rates at 32 per 1,000 lives
birth and under-five mortality rates at 40 per 1,000 live births.
(2003, 73)

Proportional to population, China spends three times as much as India
on health care. In India health spending stands at 1.3% of GDP.
(central and state governments combined) Human development indicators
remain much lower for India than for China. Literacy stands at 65%,
infant mortality at 68 per 1,000 live births, and under five mortality
rates at 96 per 1,000 live births. (2003, 73)

If India provided the same health care as China, every year 1.7
million children could be saved. (1998, 156-157 and 176-177)


In Cuba, there is one medical doctor for 170 people. In the rest of
Latin America, the proportion is of one doctor for 613 people. Cuba
spends per inhabitant twice as much on health care and education than
the rest of Latin America. (2003, 255)

Cuba's per capita income is a small fraction of that of the USA, yet
it has the same infant mortality rate and has kept HIV/AIDS under
control. (2003, 87)

If the rest of Latin America invested as much as Cuba on health care,
every year 400,000 Latin American children could be saved and 20,000
fewer women would die in pregnancy or child birth.

In Latin America, the ten per cent richest people earn 46 times what
the poorest earn. In Cuba the proportion is five times. (2003, 283)

A quarter of Latin Americans have to survive on two dollars a day or
less. In Cuba, less than two per cent do. (2003, 245)


Evidence shows that countries that abandoned the construction of
socialism and adopted capitalism experienced a massive regression.
Central and Eastern Europe and the CIS experienced the sharpest
increase in poverty in the 1990s, the only other region with worsening
trends in poverty is Sub-Saharan Africa. (2005, 21)

Ukraine fell 17 places and Russia 15 places while Tadjikistan fell 21
places. Russia fell 48 places in world life expectancy ranking from
1990 to 2003. (2005, 22) Life expectancy for men has fallen from 70
in 1990 to 59 today, lower than India. If this remains constant, 40
percent of 15 years old Russians will be dead before they reach 60.
(2005, 26)

Between 2.5 to 3 million people died during the 1992-2001 period. "In
the absence of war, famine or health epidemics, there is no recent
historical precedent for the scale of the loss." (2005, 23)

Central and Eastern Europe and the CIS experienced a dramatic increase
in poverty. The number of people on less than $2 a day there rose from
23 million in 1990 to 93 million in 2001, from 5% to 20%. (2005, 34)

In the countries of the former Soviet Union, transition brought with
it one of the deepest recessions since the Great Depression of the
1930s, and in many case despite positive growth over the last few
years, incomes are still lower than they were 15 years ago. (2005,

Since 1990 real per capita incomes have fallen by more than 10% in
Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Ukraine and by 40% in Georgia, Moldova and
Tajikistan. In Russia, 10 percent of the population live on less than
$2 a day and 25 percent live below the national subsistence level.
(2005, 35)


These are the main reasons why we believe that capitalism, as a way of
organizing society and the economy, fails and is not sustainable; and
advocate socialism as a viable alternative and a better way of
organizing the world.


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