…And Justice For All : A blog on the workers
As the well known saying goes; ‘Man is a social animal’. What is a social animal? It is a living being who, for his livelihood, depends upon similar other living beings for his or her survival.
What exactly is the working class? It is that class who actually ‘works’, or ‘produces’ the goods or ‘provides’ the services, which in turn generate revenue for the owner of the corporation / organization where the worker works.
In entire human history, we have heard of slaves working for Emperors, peasants working for landlords. They formed the working class in earlier times.
Think of anything that you use in day to day life. The chair I sit on while I write this blog. The table on which I keep my laptop. Each and every part of my laptop. The T shirt and shorts I wear while writing all this. A man cannot survive on his own! It is how human beings are. Social animals. They depend on other human beings. In todays world of individuality, we totally forget that it is the working class that sustains us. No one can do anything ‘on his own’.
Can you guess in what conditions do the workers, who built the above mentioned things, live their lives? It is likely that the textile worker who worked on my T shirt, struggles to make his and his family’s ends meet with the minimal wages given to him, is unable to provide good quality education to his kids, because, you know, there are no cheap schools, and spends most of the time of his life generating Rs. 500 T shirts, out of which he must be getting, what 50 Rs.?
Money causes problems. To everyone. The upper, middle as well as lower classes. It causes the most problems for the lower classes. Because it is difficult to stay ‘cool’ or ‘happy’ when you are not even sure that your kids will be getting proper food. The problems caused by this unbalanced economy are seen in various forms. Criminal tendencies. Disputes. Between workers, their families, their kids. Violent and aggressive disputes. Sometimes these go to the extent that someone gets killed. Fatal addictions.
Unless we make sure every single human being on this planet gets proper food, clothing, shelter and education, we have no right to call ourselves a ‘civilization’. What kind of civilization encourages getting killed for your so called ‘nation’? Who dies for the nation? A soldier who does not care for his life, so that the people of nation are safe, what happens to his family? They lose a person in the family. Do we not know the pain of losing someone that close? And there are continuous wars. And by the by, these wars are sponsored by the rich. Yes, to get richer and mightier. And who dies in these wars, for their ‘nations’, a son of a poor family. Their lives are lost just so that the rich people of one nation want to have their superiority over those of the other, and we beautifully cover this under the glorious phrase of ‘gave his life for the nation’. Shame on such a fake civilization.
As we all know very well, environmental problems are continuously on the rise. Global warming is increasing day by day. The situation in Delhi; smog problems, people unable to inhale normal air, extremely high PM levels, this all is just the beginning. Slowly, Bengaluru, Mumbai and other cities as well will start facing similar problems. Now when full air is polluted, who will be able to protect themselves with expensive medical devices, and who won’t be? Who will face more problems due to pollution? It will be the same working class who strives hard each day just to make ends meet.
The conditions of peasants in our country is even worse. How fair is it that the group of people who actually produce food, have to go to the extent of suicides? Is it that difficult to ensure food to everyone?
There is a small calculation, which one of my friends always uses during discussions. He says, that let’s say a regular IT employee earns about 400 Rs. per hour. And a regular farmer earns 40 Rs. per hour. Then he asks, that which is the more important of the two jobs? Which is the job without which the world can run and which is the one without which it cannot? Then why does an IT employee earn more. Then he goes on to explain how markets determine the wages and not the actual importance of the job, and so on.
Point is, this system is unfair to the people doing most of our important work. Textile mill workers, Hand mill workers, bus drivers, sweepers, sewage cleaners, peasants, construction workers, petty shopkeepers, small food vendors, gardeners, vegetable and fruit vendors, truck drivers, the list goes on and on and on.
Unless we are able to provide :
- Proper food for all of them
- Decent clothing for all of them
- Good houses to all of them
- Free and compulsory education to all of them,
let us not call this world as good! It is a bad world. Every single man’s suffering and exploitation must end. How has workers’ conditions improved in the past? What is the methodology for the same?
Any kind of social change is brought about by a social movement. When people flood the streets protesting, criticizing the repressive politics, governance and economic policies that cause the unsustainable crises we face today, the ones in power have to act. As simple as this might sound, however, the oppressed class itself is fighting amongst itself on so many grounds; religion, caste, etc.; in such times, it is difficult to imagine how exactly will everyone (who has fallen prey to the repressive policies) be persuaded and unite against this evil capitalist monster.
May day, or the international workers’ day, or labor day as it is known in some places, finds its roots in the movement for 8 hour workdays. The famous Haymarket affair, which was the strongest of the several movements present in the United States for 8 hour workdays, took place on May the 1st 1886. At the time all over the world similar movements were taking place. They advocated 8 hours for work, 8 hours for rest, 8 hours for recreation. Even for such basic rights the workers had to go to the extent of having movements.
Does a human being control where / when is he / she born? To whom he / she is born. Me being born in a middle class family had the privilege of getting good (?) education, good food everyday, etc. etc. I had friends in school who didn’t. By the way, even with such number of necessities satisfied, the middle class has really strange sort of issues in their lives!
Anyway, the point is, why should things be decided by the virtue of somebody’s birth? A man, a free animal born on this earth, why he has to face hardships just so that other men get mightier. Superiority at the cost of justice to a section of human beings is the worst thing possible, and this is what currently is going on.
The land owner, where all the peasants work day in day out; he himself does no productive work actually. Still he accumulates more than enough resources, and the poor peasant will not get even just enough. All these inequalities have got to be stopped. There is no way this can be let go on for longer periods.
In a profit based free market capitalist economic system, the only priority is profit. Businesses run to generate more and more revenue. The aims of our economic and political systems must not be to let anyone be as rich as he / she wants, but to make sure resources are allocated in such a way that at least everyone’s basic necessities are satisfied.
Man is a social animal. Without a society there is no meaning to the human life. And without the collective labor of all people, there can be no society. Hence, it is a question of sustainability of the human species on this planet; bread, clothes, shelter, good education, employment, with no exploitation, irrespective of the class the person belongs to.