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Human Relations The Biggest Victim Of Capitalism

By Dr. Sawraj Singh

Probably the biggest damage that capitalism has done to modern society is that it has very much weakened and almost destroyed human relations. By promoting extreme self-centeredness, selfishness, and egalitarianism, it has destroyed the very basis of human relations.

Capitalism constantly instills the notion, “What is in it for me?” Capitalist culture can be called I, me, and mine culture. I, me and mine are detached from we, us, and our. This is the biggest tragedy of our times: we have mostly limited our existence to our self. However, this self is not our true self. Our true self is the realization that we are a part of the whole. The false self, promoted by capitalism, is based upon our ego and not on reality. The egoist self detaches and separates from others. In the end, we become victims of this self-imposed isolation and separation by becoming lonely and isolated.

Human relations are the foundation of society. When they become weak, then the whole society becomes weak. Historically and traditionally, human relations evolved with the feeling of belongingness. We belonged to a family, a tribe, a village, a town, a state, or a country. We always saw ourselves in terms of a group with shared values or interests. Capitalism has “liberated” us from all of these impediments and has taken us to the “universality” of consumerism.

We have all become consumers and that has become our prime identity. It may not be an exaggeration to say that the real intention of capitalism is to convert human beings into consumers. Even a bigger tragedy is that while there is awareness about the people who try to convert other people to their religion forcibly or deviously, the biggest effort to convert people to the “religion” of consumerism has so far been mostly ignored or unnoticed. This is the most dangerous type of conversion because the other conversions at least do not deprive one of basic values. Most religions share basic human values, whereas capitalism is devoid of human values. Therefore, conversion to consumerism deprives one of basic human values. This conversion is far more dangerous than the other conversions.

Traditionally, human relations bound people together with multiple bonds of culture, heritage, a value system, and economics. Relations under capitalism have been limited to one track (i.e. money). The other aspects of relationships have, for all practical purposes, become irrelevant. Only those relations will survive which either directly or indirectly bring us monetary gain and benefit. The human element in the relations has been replaced by mechanical aspect. This phenomenon is consistent with the capitalist intention of limiting human existence to robotic identity. This is the ultimate dream of capitalists: to have the most faithful, organized, disciplined, efficient, and docile robots, rather than human beings. Having purely mechanical relations is a big step in that direction.

Years ago, there was a research experiment conducted upon baby chimpanzees. They were separated from their natural mother, and were taken to two dummies which looked like their mother. One dummy was soft, warm and cuddly, while the other was hard and cold. The chimpanzees clung to the soft and cuddly model, but when they were taken to the other model, they screamed, ran away, and never came back. The plight of human beings is worse than those baby chimpanzees. Instead of rejecting the cold and hard mother, we have accepted her. The refrigerator has become our new mother. In the old days, we went to our mother for food when we were hungry. Now, we go to the refrigerator. Our mother gave us some warm food and added her own warmth to the food. Now, the cold and hard refrigerator gives us whatever is available and we quickly fix ourselves a cold sandwich with whatever is available. Most of us do not have the time to sit, relax, and eat a good meal. For most of us, eating has been limited to just mechanically filling our stomach rather than a meaningful social interaction.

If we can afford it, we each will have our own computer and our own TV in our own room. At least that is the dream for most families. There is hardly any room for sharing. Even a little child will rather be with his own computer in his own room than play with other children. How will these people develop any meaningful human relations?

The most fundamental human relation is that of a man and woman, which has been given the name “marriage” in almost all civilized societies. The institution of marriage has been hit the hardest in capitalist society. Marriage has become just like any other business deal; completely devoid of any human consideration. The sanctity of this institution has been almost completely lost. Just look at the advertisements for marriage. The boys and the girls are brought to the market like any other commodity. By reading these matrimonial ads, one gets the impression that decent human values like humility and moderation have no room in modern capitalist society.

The degeneration of marriage has reached the ultimate height when it is associated with immigration. For obtaining immigration status, everything else can be sacrificed. Immigration has become an integral part of modern capitalist society. Without bringing in immigrants from less developed and third world countries, the survival of capitalism becomes questionable. For the sake or immigration, everything else can be sacrificed: age, looks, education, caste, biological relations, and social prestige; all are sacrificed at the altar for immigration. Fake marriages for obtaining an immigrant status are not uncommon. Even in these marriages, the social and moral degeneration keeps reaching lower and lower levels. A brother and sister or even a father and daughter can become husband and wife on paper. Fake divorces for getting economic benefits are also becoming not too uncommon.

The rising incidence of divorce is a clear indication of the weakening of human relations. In some capitalist countries, the divorce rate is 50% or more. Even in traditional and conservative societies, the incidence of divorce continues to rise. Divorces are also becoming more bitter and vengeful. At one time, in a society like India, divorce was a big taboo. Now, both sides try to extract the maximum benefit out of this tragedy. Instead of being an embarrassment, it is being seen more and more as an opportunity to make money and retaliate.

Ultimately, the notion of capitalism that economics is above ethics or paisa is above Dharam, has taken a big toll on human values. Human relations have become the biggest casualty of capitalism.

Dr. Sawraj Singh, MD F.I.C.S. is the Chairman of the Washington State Network for Human Rights and Chairman of the Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice. He can be reached at sawrajsingh@hotmail.com.

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