By Kung Chan*
If one were to step back in time to 5000 B.C.E. and travelled from the Iranian Plateau to Mesopotamia, one would encounter a huge number of nomadic tribes and people. Archaeological sites and cultural relics reveal the aesthetic accomplishment of these people, where their pottery and other works of art are eagerly collected by museums all over the world today.
The natural economy of pastural culture was practiced by these people. In today’s terms, such an economy could embody environmental friendliness producing extremely low carbon emissions; however, because it relied on the vagaries of nature, life was harsh at the time.
If the climate was cold and when the ice age came, then there would be violent wars. In China for instance, during the Song Dynasty which lasted from 960 C.E. to 1279 C.E., there were nomads from the north invading and plundering the south. Records of similar occurrences abound in Chinese historical records, and this is, in reality, the product of natural economics, despite what most experts and publications teach.
Later, neither natural economy nor conflicts were able to solve the food shortage problem, owing to the growing population. Sheep’s life cycle was too long in natural economy, while wars would cost too many lives in a grim reality for everyone. Therefore, people started to realize it is better to have peace than war. The catastrophe of wars also taught people that one could get what others possessed if the right means were used, in ways that did not actually involve warfare. Furthermore, this could be done with the consent and agreement of both parties. As a result, power and authority originated from the experiences and technology created through wars have transformed pastoral culture into exploitative culture, in which one would obtain control of others’ belongings through various means, whether violent or scientific.
In my younger days, I remember reading that someone said capitalism is exploitative economy. It was only when I got older that I realized it was not wrong at all. Capitalism is indeed exploitative where people mutually exploit each other in different ways. The tertiary industry, while claiming to provide “services” such as the capitalist insurance industry, are in reality not that much different from robbery. That is the reason why all Wall Street tycoons are tied to insurance, and the same is true for most tech investments. Magnates like Warren Buffett for instance started with the insurance business. Isn’t it like robbery that insurance is purchased in advance and that people who use it must pay for it while they are still waiting for the services?
As a matter of fact, capitalism and socialism are all exploitative, but in different ways. In the stages of human development, once mankind emerged from natural economy, they began to enter the stage of exploitation in different degrees depending on the conditions. The buzzwords now are “environmental protection” and “green economy”, which are precisely what the Biden administration regards as its governing goal. The world today condemns whoever does not talk about green, low carbon and environmental protection. The reality is that the world has long plunged into the realm of exploitation. “Environmental protection” and “low carbon”, so to speak, belong to the domain of the natural economy, which is a phase that mankind can never return to. Humanity would be unable to think in the same way during the exploitation stage as it did during the natural economy era.
Indeed, exploitation is the characteristic of our modern economy. Mankind itself has become the sacrificial goat to each other. Nowadays people perform the sacrificial ritual known as “consumption” and the very process of this ritual is what the modern “economy” is all about.