"In an ugly and unhappy world the richest man can purchase nothing but ugliness and unhappiness." George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright (1856-1950)
Today there is mounting criticism of economic development, whether it takes place in the North or in the South (reference 1 below). Although the world on average generates increasingly more wealth, that wealth does not appear to "trickle-down" to poor people and improve their material well-being. Instead, poverty and economic inequality is growing; it is worthwhile reading the reference. Among many other essential information, it says that, "The poorest 40 percent of the world population - the 2.5 billion people who live on less than $2 a day - account for five percent of global income, while the richest 10 percent account for 54 percent."
In spite of more than 60 years of development aid, and many well-intended efforts, the Third World seems not to be "catching up" to the First World (reference 2 below). Instead, the South is multiplying militarism, dictatorships, conflicts, and human repression. Consequently, the quality of life promised to people in the South did not materialize. In its place, we are faced with distressing statistics showing that a huge number of people, mainly women and children, are living in absolute poverty. Their daily lives are weighed down by hunger, malnutrition, weakness, diseases, violence, rape, domination, degraded environments, lack of adequate natural resources, climate change, heavy workloads, and other obstacles that make their lives unmanageable. The result of this misery is that 50,000 people are dying every day from the effects of poverty in our world of plenty.
"If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin." Charles Darwin, English naturalist (1809-1882)
Moreover, North American and West European politicians seem increasingly engaged in wars, rather than diplomacy, to resolve differences. Since war is an act of forceful domination, it normally brings violent opposition, rather than peace. These brutal activities are not only creating chaos and misery among people who live in war zones; they are also taking away much-needed financial resources from people living in the war-promoting countries. The outcome of such costly and aggressive acts is that vast quantities of money are directed to the elites who own the military-industrial complex, while non-elites worldwide suffer the carnage and the cost to produce it. This is further depriving global societies of a quality of life.
It is disturbing that the world has so much poverty, when we are richer than ever in human history. We have never experienced so many individuals being billionaires. Poverty is, therefore, not caused by lack of money. Poverty rather relates to inequalities: while millions of people are living in misery, a minority is living a life of luxury. Thus, extreme poverty co-exists with excessive wealth. Consequently, it must be clear that our governments allow economic activities, which accumulate wealth for a few, while impoverishing the many. It is therefore not a coincidence that most of the political leaders who are favoring imposition of austerity measures on the general population are themselves wealthy, and thus immune to the consequences of austerity. Several politicians are millionaires, some are even billionaires. Hence, although "The Golden Rule" can be found in some form in almost every ethical tradition, it rarely applies to most modern democracies.
"My notion of democracy is that under it the weakest should have the same opportunity as the strongest." Mohandas K. Gandhi
Since the mid-1970s, the critique of global economic activities has intensified due to the escalating deterioration of the natural environment. Research has directly linked industrialization and its economic activities to increased scarcity of natural resources and generation of pollution, which raises global temperatures and degrades soils, lands, waters, forests, and air. The latter threat is of great significance because without healthy environments and natural resources human beings, animals, and plants will not be able to survive. Thus, while economic development of the world was expected to improve material well-being for all, faced with its negative side effects and the real threat of extinction, one must conclude that somewhere along the way modern "progress" went astray. It has therefore become abundantly clear that the current form of wealth creation has given us numerous harmful consequences manifested as serious social crises and environmental problems. Statistics show that these calamities are mainly borne by women, children, traditional peoples, tribal peoples, people of color, and materially poor people. The global economic system marginalizes these people. Many of them are forced to survive in degraded environments; they live without personal or social security; they live in abject poverty, with hunger, malnutrition, and sickness; and they are denied access to the means of obtaining or even seeking or demanding a fair share of the world's resources.
"At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done, then it is done, and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago." Frances Hodgson Burnett, English playwright and author (1849-1924)
In spite of these worsening and unsustainable conditions, we are still being told that making more money can solve all the problems in this world. Poverty, hunger, crime, diseases, and natural destruction – any possible problem – is assumed solvable by money. This assumption has been stressed by the wealthy elites and our political leaders over generations, to the extent that the pursuit of economic development, growth, and profit-making are activities that only a few would question. The overall importance and "sustainability" of economic activities has therefore been put up as a dogma, to which there are no alternatives possible – all else is called utopia – a state of perfection that we cannot achieve. Yet, if we define utopia as a desirable reality, an ideal existence, or a perfect society, then utopia would be a positive deal. Hence, we had better choose pursuit of utopia, since the pursuit of economic growth and profit-making did not improve our well-being, even when aggregate global wealth was increasing. Instead, it gave us dystopia, the opposite of utopia, a world of hardship and serious crises including war and violence; poverty and inequality; human rights abuses; and environmental degradation. Clearly, something must be wrong with the singular focus on quantities of money, since it seems to destroy our quality of life, and threatens to destroy it on a massive scale. It is therefore time to stop, take stock, challenge the economic priority, and consider alternative values that include care for our social and environmental well-being.
"Don't be afraid of the space between your dreams and reality. If you can dream it, you can make it so." Belva Davis, American journalist
The majority of the world's political leaders do not seem to comprehend the seriousness of the current crises. Neither do they seem to understand that it is their singular focus on eternal economic growth that is causing them. If they did, they would not endlessly prioritize increasing wealth, from which mainly the elites benefit, while disregarding all other issues. The result is that people worldwide are becoming weary of their political leaders' inadequacies in improving a quality of life for society and nature. Consequently, in order to transform these crises, save the planet, and create a peaceful world where nobody dies from hunger and poverty, we – the concerned citizens of the world – must take action.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead, American cultural anthropologist (1901-1978)
The Intsangano website is therefore meant as a community, embracing people from all walks of life, who, in one way or another, are concerned about our global crises, and who want to understand them and their causes better and by that seriously engage in changing the status quo.
The idea is to develop the Intsangano website into an "information-bank" where readers have free access to honest, easy understandable explanations in the form of articles, subject papers, or other material that can help them better grasp the causes of the current global problems. An improved understanding of the modern dominant and patriarchal structures – which here are seen as the source the current crises – will help us to demand, insist on, and define changes.
In order to create this information-bank, the Intsangano website is a "platform" for those people who are able and willing to share their knowledge, in the form of written contributions, subject papers, or articles that in an easy way explain some aspects of the complex global crises and the dominant economic and political structures that cause them. If there already are useful explanations somewhere on the internet, please refer the link to the Intsangano website, so that we can gather and share the knowledge.
The Intsangano website is also a place to create our utopia: formulate dreams, share good experiences and successes, and make suggestions for a possible non-dominant, post-patriarchal world, where we can transform the global crises and create a better quality of life for everyone.
Find more information regarding the purpose of the Intsangano website in the About Intsangano page.
"To penetrate and dissipate these clouds of darkness, the general mind must be strengthened by education." Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the USA, and one of its Founding Fathers (1743-1826)
In conclusion: the intention of the Intsangano website is to motivate diverse people, from all over the world, to join forces as a community, and share common, relevant knowledge, which will help us understand better how the domination by the political and economic elites (patriarchal domination) functions, and how their eternal focus on profit-making has caused our global crises. The purpose is also to suggest ideas for transformation to end our global crises. However, the overall aim is of course to end Patriarchy itself, and to create a better quality of life for society and nature worldwide.
Why should we put forth this effort? Because we cannot be neutral when we know that 50,000 people are dying every day from effects of abject poverty, while the elites live in absolute comfort; we cannot be inactive when we constantly experience unjust wars that are causing tremendous suffering to communities far away from the luxury residences of the war-promoting elites; we cannot continue being idle when our societies and natural environments are decaying around us, due to exploitation by the elites, who are living in healthy surroundings. We live under an unjust political and economic system, where the priority is on gaining maximum economic profit to the political and economic elites based on dominating society and exploiting nature. Today it is your neighbor who is the victim of this injustice; tomorrow it will be you and your children who are the victims. Consequently, we cannot be neutral.
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” Desmond Tutu, South African Archbishop, activist, and recipient of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize
As a beginning, we need to understand what led our political leaders to trust the false assumption about the universal wonders of economic growth. This relates to the root cause of the problem.
Reference 1) In economic development literature "North" normally refers to industrialized countries, which are considered rich, modern, and scientifically developed. "South" refers to non-industrialized countries, which are considered poor, scientifically under-developed or undeveloped. North and South did at first relate geographically, since the northern hemisphere was more developed compared to the southern hemisphere. However, the North/South division is no longer consistent. Australia and New Zealand are considered industrialized countries but they are placed in the southern hemisphere. Moreover, some countries in the South like Brazil, India, and South Africa, are becoming quite advanced in their industries, while millions of their populations are poor. To make things easy, in this website North refers to rich countries or rich regions. South refers to poor countries or poor regions. Both concepts are used with capitals.
Reference 2) Early development theories divided the world into three parts. This division was first based on politics, but later on, it related to economic measures. The First World consisted of the modern, industrialized countries, with a high Gross Domestic Product. Included were the biggest part of Europe, USA, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. The Second World related to the Soviet bloc of countries, but it was rarely used as a concept. The Third World included all the countries that had recently received their independence from European colonization, and which were to be "developed" into modern states according to the example of the First World. Some authors are now using the term Fourth World. It can mean different things, but it normally refers to sub-populations that are socially excluded from global society, living a life of poverty. These groups exist in almost every country and region of the world.