Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

The upside down inequality

Written by: on March 30, 2014

While studying Bauman Zygmunt’ book called Collateral Damage: Social Inequalities in a Global Age, it was clear that the author provides a critique of modern-day social inequality, I couldn’t help but think about local and global inequity and disparities. I appreciated the perspective which promoted a vast understanding of the relationship between inequality, democracy and globalization. Zygmunt writes:

The truth- to be neglected only at democracy’s peril- is, never-the less, that we cannot effectively defend our freedoms here at home while fencing ourselves off from the rest of the world and attending solely to our own affairs. Class is only one of the historical forms of inequality, the nation-state only one of its historical frames, and so ‘the end of national class society’ (if indeed the era of the ‘national class society’s has ended, which is a moot question) does not augur ‘the end of social inequality’. We now need to extend the issue of inequality beyond the misleadingly narrow area of income per head, to the fatal mutual attraction between poverty and social vulnerability, to corruption, to the accumulation of dangers, as well as to humiliation and denial of dignity, that is to the factors which shape attitudes and conduct and integrate groups (or more correctly, in their case, disintergrate groups), factor s fast growing in volume and importance in the age of the globality of information.[1]

Indeed, what a “liquid” local and global modern and postmodern reality. How does a society begin to deal with and map out a new recourse to inequalities and societal ills?The current approach to local and global social justice by governments, nongovernmental organization and houses of worship are endeavoring to implement are concerned with the loaded issue of development and nation building around the world. Intervention usually happens from a paradigm of the so called “haves” helping and assisting the “have nots /least of these”. But are the least of these all with the same bracket? Did they all experience the same resource gaps? Recent research shows that there is need for another perspective toward current global inequalities. Collier asserts:

For forty years the development challenge has been a rich world of one billion people facing a poor world of five billion people. The Millennium Development Goals (MDG) established by the United Nations, which are designed to track development progress through 2015, encapsulates this thinking. By 2015, however, it will be apparent that this way of conceptualizing development has become outdated. Most of the five billion, about 80 percent, live in countries that are indeed developing, often at amazing speed. The real challenge of development is that there is a group of countries at the bottom that are falling behind, and often falling apart. The countries at the bottom coexist with the twenty-first century, but their reality is the fourteenth century: civil war, plague, ignorance.[2]

Collier’s revelation is in contrast to the particular generalization of who are at the bottom or the so called “have-nots”. The poor are not a monolithic group. But still, it is also important to maintain that “ninety per cent of the total wealth of the planet remains in the hands of just 1 per cent of the planet’s inhabitants.”[3] The scales are still by and large tipped towards the wealthiest.  For example the East African country of “Tanzania earns 2.2 billion dollars a year, which it divides among 25 million inhabitants. Goldman Sachs Bank earns 2.6 billion dollars, which is then divided between 161 stockholders. Europe and the United States spend 17 billion dollars each year on animal food, while according to experts, just 19 billion dollars is needed to save the world’s population from hunger[4]

We surly need a second opinion and therefore more perspectives and effective principles on how to truthfully deal with inequalities.

[1] Zygmunt Bauman, Collateral Damage: Social Inequalities in a Global Age (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2011), 23.

[2]  Collier, Paul. The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007). loc. 119 Kindle Edition

[3] Zygmunt Bauman, Collateral Damage: Social Inequalities in a Global Age (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2011), 24.

[4] Bauman, 24.

About the Author

Michael Badriaki

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