Markets, Religion and the Asians
by Janaka Goonetilleke on 21 Jul 2013 5 Comments

In the early 20th century, in the light of Fukuzawa Yukichi advocating Good Bye Asia, Japan decided to follow the West in spite of the appeals of Rabindranath Tagore, Sun Yat Sun and Okkakura to look towards the East. Thus Japan abandoned spirituality and compassion and followed the western philosophy of might is right and the hubris that the environment was there for humanity to exploit without any consequences. An age old Asian / Japanese philosophy of Harmony with the environment was abandoned. 


Today, after three nuclear disasters, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Fukushima, and the pollution they generated and the thousands who died or were maimed, it is time for the rest of Asia to stand back and ascertain whether we should find a different pathway for our development, a pathway advocated by men like Sun Yat Sun, Tagore and others, one which has a moral element and is in harmony with the environment, a path Japan gave up when it followed the west. China, the latest leader of the flock to ignore its rich heritage, has realised the folly of its policies in the wake of environmental damage and its effect on the health of her people. China is now reconsidering her economic policies.


Civilizations that have grown over millennia, where societies were built on civic duty by deriving the greatest joy from serving others, have been hijacked by market forces. In a situation where 1% of humanity owns 40% of the wealth of the world, where 34000 children die daily on poverty related illness, where 50% people live on less than $2/day, the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer; humanity has lost its purpose.


Over the last five centuries, the moral zeitgeist of the West was physical slavery to exploit the riches of the world; now it has changed subtly and humans have been converted wage slaves through an ill-understood monetary system. The system gains its profits from markets that have infiltrated every aspect of human society thus engineering larger and larger markets increasing the profits of the controllers of the monetary system. This is now sold to the world as globalization, global village, open economy. To understand the present system one has to understand (i) the monetary system; (ii) the markets; and (iii) the maintenance of the system.


Monetary System


Out of all the social institutions there is no institution that that is taken for granted and ill understood than the monetary system. A system that has reached religious proportions affecting the daily life of all people. It is an unquestioned form of faith errors of society that is hidden behind a system of statistics and mathematical formulae, which has prevented people from understanding the system. The lifeblood of the monetary system is money, paper and computer based in the form of bonds. The institution is unquestioned by majority of the people as to how money is created, policies by which it is governed and its effect on society.


Wage Slaves


Essentially, the world money system rests on the US dollar as reserve currency. The money is created by the Federal Reserve from thin air and lent to the banks at interest. The banks roll the money by a system whereby 90% of the currency deposited is re-lent and the process continues many a times to fund the market. The market pays interest and the interest on the money not lent is paid by debt, which is called inflation, a tax on the people. The money created from thin air, which Obama called monopoly money is, used to pay wages, thus creating wage slaves. This process is repeated to fuel the market, thus creating more and more debt.


The reserve currency is needed by the rest of the world as the markets are denoted in dollars, especially oil. Thus the monopoly money is recirculated through the international banking system, but the IMF controls the loans. The Europeans and Americans dominate the IMF and the World Bank. Through the reserve currency, Third world economies are controlled, thus enslaving 99% of the world. The system enriches 1% of the world and pauperises the rest into slavery.


A corrupt betting currency market maintains the value of the monopoly money. Obama created $4 trillion of monopoly money but this had only minimal effect on the value, confirming the corrupt nature of the market.


Economic Hitmen


The non-western world needs loans of dollars as commodity prices are low due to market manipulations which the West has inherited from colonialism and the need for dollars to buy essential commodities like oil. Loans require the permission of the IMF and World Bank and they give that only if the governments accept the structural adjustment recommendations of the IMF. These could entail devaluation, privatisation, infrastructure development, reducing social spending like health care, education, so that the monopoly money can be used to buy up the poor countries and enslave people into cheap labour. They do not take responsibility for the negative effects of their recommendations like damage to the environment. It is said that the projects recommended have only 60% of the investment going into the project; the rest is for commissions, corruption and administration. The majority in these countries and future generations are sold into a web of debt.




Markets that were created only to evaluate the prices of a productive industry on the basis of supply and demand, have now infiltrated every aspect of human need. The basic philosophy of the market system is creative destruction assessed in terms of creative accounting that negates the downside and emphasises the positives to show profits. An analysis of the whole system is difficult in an article of this nature, but we can emphasise a few areas to get the message across.


Industrial Agriculture / Creative Destruction


The Meat Industry, for instance, creates 10% of world global warming. Sedentary animals have high saturated fats which when eaten increase serum cholesterol and coronary heart disease and cancer for which pharmaceutical companies create anti-cholesterol and anti-cancer drugs. Both create new markets and necessitate creation of more money and from a human point of view, the market is inefficient. From a pragmatic viewpoint, organic farming or change of diet probably would be a better alternative.


Genetically modified crops are marketed as increasing production, but require extra expenses of fertilisers and insecticides. They affect biodiversity and change the soil quality, making it difficult to diversify crops. More importantly, they affect human health by affecting the immune system, for which drugs are needed to control the side effects.


Deforestation creates new vector-controlled diseases like dengue, floods, landslides, reduces water tables. Destruction of the environment is an ignored part of the new market system, leaving the poor to carry the can of side effects like the recent floods and devastation in India, where thousands died. No one is accountable.


Nuclear Industry


In the light of Fukushima, where large areas of Japan and ground water are contaminated, people have been evacuated from areas that have become un-livable. In fact even people living in cities away from the area need to drink bottled water. The dismantling of the nuclear plant is envisaged to take 25-30 years! The public have a right to know what right politicians and corporations have to take risks with the lives of millions of people living not only in the area but worldwide when the contaminations gradually spreads through food, wind, water... Till date, no one has been made accountable for Fukushima though thousands have died and millions are affected. The media has hidden the reality from the public.


Migrant Workers: Modern Slavery


There are 200 million migrant workers in the world, mainly in the Gulf, encouraged by governments so they can lay their hands on monopoly money (foreign exchange) they earn. The social consequences of social disruption are ignored. These migrant workers have no right to decent abode, no family life, in certain countries their passports are taken to prevent freedom of movement and enslavement. Rape and physical violence is part of their daily lives. This is the best example of modern wage slavery characteristic of this new world order; others are well hidden.


Markets and Society


The reach of the markets and market-oriented thinking into aspects of life traditionally governed by non-market norms is a disconcerting aspect of the new world order. Profit-based medical care, schooling, prisons, politics, even out-sourcing of police and war, corrupts societal institutions where professional obligations and accountability, civic duty and morality play a secondary role to money. Under these circumstances, proper human practice, a hallmark of a decent society, is hijacked and prostituted.


More importantly, society has to determine the morality of money determining basic human needs. This gets more important in a market-oriented society where the poor and middle classes are getting poorer daily. This does not cater to a stable society.


In a society where wage slavery is the norm and people have to work harder and harder for their existence with changing work patterns, life is less and less comfortable. The inherent support system of an extended family has been gradually destroyed with two people having to work to maintain an average lifestyle which has made a mockery of motherhood, marriage and a stable society. Humans are social animals and deprivation of this support system will only increase mental disorders and addictions, an ever-growing problem in societies today. This probably is the tip of the iceberg. Societies of future generations when the present young grow up could be much worse as the present generation is much more at risk of emotional deprivation than the generation before the market forces took over society.


Markets and Politics


Today politicians have abandoned civic duty and the betterment of society and replaced it with betterment of self. The present democratic system is built on corporate and foreign funding of political parties to pay subservience to corporates. The system encourages sycophancy and positions are sold to henchmen who are predatory in nature and sovereign wealth is not responsibly managed. Blatant corruption is encouraged to buy the services of criminals, rapists and drug dealers who subjugate normal law abiding citizens if they protest about poor governance and injustice. They carry out the will of the rulers, however unjust. The media covers up the true reality.


The ill-gotten wealth has ready avenues for investment in the corrupt banking system in tax havens. Immoral systems never last and recently the Cyprus banking system collapsed and took with it the ill-gotten wealth of the corrupt. But this is stolen wealth from poor countries where the poor are dying from starvation.


The IMF and World Bank who have through the ages corrupted politicians by giving loans, indebting nation’s with monopoly money, hold nations to ransom. It is interesting that even though governments have changed (like in Egypt) it is business as usual as the economy is held to ransom and run by the IMF/World Bank based on un-payable debt.


Markets and Religion


Christianity has been part and parcel of colonialism; Jomo Kenyatta said: “when the white man came he had the bible, we had the land. And then he said we will close our eyes and let us pray, and when we opened our eyes we had the bible and he had the land”. The Christian church encouraged wage slaves to work hard and save money, but did not say it was monopoly money they earned. These faith religions encourage acceptance of the status quo so that the system can continue. It is interesting that the first foreign exchange bank was created in the Vatican. In South Korea, 40% of the people have been converted to Christianity and have helped establish an alien market economy that lacks morality. The markets have even infiltrated the Buddhist temples and age-old philosophies have been abandoned. It has created a void that the Christians leap in to fill.


Maintenance of the System


99% of the world is enslaved for the benefit of the rich 1%. Any protest is first controlled by the governments using the military and police, as seen in Egypt and Turkey. The police and the military are not there to safeguard the country against foreign invasions, but to control the local populace when it protests against injustice.


The corporate-controlled media mislead and encourage people to blindly follow the establishment. It is only the Internet that has allowed some dissemination of news. Even that is under surveillance by institutions that wish to propagate this immoral system. State security organisations are another arm of the control mechanism. These organisations are inadequately supervised by the establishment and are used by governments to control dissent against this immoral system.


Markets and Failed States


When the populace starts revolting against the government because of lack of food and freedom and government is unable to manage, the country cannot be ruled. We have seen that in Egypt where the newly elected President was ousted as he could not improve the status of the poor. The question is whether governments so indebted and fixed on to an unjust economic system can have any answer to the ever-increasing poverty that is an inherent part of the system. It must be emphasised that even the military cannot control revolting starving millions.




With the end of the triumphalism of the market economy in 2008, in spite of the interested parties wishing to continue the system on the belief it is too large to be allowed to fail, it is time for a public discourse on how far markets must be allowed to infiltrate societal needs, from politics, to medicine, education …


Self-realisation is most important before we embark on discourse. Given our present scientific knowledge, the needs of society must be adequately assessed and development geared to sustainability. Human desire for freedom of the mind can create a sustainable environment for the benefit of the many. Wage slaves will never care for the interests of the many, but of their masters, the oligarchy that create monopoly money. Human beings must be like bees and help to conserve nature. Bees help in production of 30% of our food. The markets by propagation of insecticides and mono-cultural agriculture are responsible for the death of 30% of the bee population.


We must rediscover the old understanding of the true relationship of humans with nature. This was part and parcel of the Asian lifestyle, be it Confucian harmony or the Oneness of Hinduism or the Buddhist sutra of dependant origination, all gave us a balanced lifestyle. Asians as the children of the Himalayas are most qualified to lead the world away from the darkness in which it finds itself.

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