Wal-Mart is the world’s largest retailer with more than 4,300 stores in the United States and over 8,000 worldwide, with global sales topping $400 billion in 2009. Walton family owns Wal-Mart, and they own more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans. Many research studies have thoroughly documented the negative impacts of Wal-Mart on local economies. These studies have shown that in cities and towns where Wal-Mart opened its stores the local stores went out of business and unemployment rose. After a single Wal-Mart opened in Chicago in September 2006, 82 of the 306 small businesses in the surrounding neighborhood had gone out of business by March 2008. The common customer thinks that he/she is getting a better price but that is not necessarily true and definitely not in the long run. Why, you would ask.
The answer lies in the nature of capitalism and monopolies under capitalism. Wal-Mart, Metro, Hyperstar and others like them are called big-box stores. These are the giants in the retail business. Then there are Multinational Corporations (MNC) in other fields like Nestle, Pepsi, Coke in food; Total, Exxon, Shell in oil and gas etc. Strictly speaking they will be labeled as oligopolies not monopolies. But the reality is that they operate as monopolies.
These MNCs have access to huge amounts of capital thanks to their brothers in global finance. Armed with this almost unlimited capital they enter different markets in the name of free and fair competition. The reality is that it is anything but free and fair. The local small businesses with limited capital cannot compete with these MNCs and go out of business. Once that happens then there is no real competition and they can jack up the price as much as they want. This is happening all over the world, country after country and industry after industry.
Let us take three of our local industries, shoe, milk and meat, as an example of this phenomenon. In every locality there used to be a “mochi” (cobbler) who used to not only repair shoes but also make new shoes. He was a highly skilled man who was very knowledgeable about leather and other related materials. The shoes he used to make were long lasting. One of the authors ( Dr. Zubair ) has personally witnessed his father wear a pair of mochi made shoes for fifteen years. With the advent of capitalism in our society, large multinational shoe manufacturing companies came and eliminated mochi from cities. The production capacity of these companies was more than what was needed. Instead of reducing production and curtailing their profit margins, these companies implemented a very devious plan. They kept the production high but through media campaigns created a desire based demand. Now new shoes are purchased not because the old ones are torn, but because they are “out of fashion”, and fashion changes every year or two. Soon they realized that because they have hoodwinked people into purchasing new shoes even when the old ones are still wearable they don’t need to make shoes that last several years. So why put effort into making long lasting shoes when it is more profitable to sell large quantities of lesser quality shoes? By the way a group of local entrepreneurs have started a very interesting business by supporting our local mochi. You can visit (http://themarkhor.com/) for details. Before any one suspects us of having any financial incentive in this regard, both of us solemnly pledge that we have no contact financial or otherwise with folks running markhor. In fact we would like to see mochi directly selling to the customer instead of markhor, but it is a step in the right direction and as such we commend it.
Fortunately milk and meat industry in Pakistan is still in the hands of local “gawala” (milk man) and “kasab” (butcher), but that is rapidly changing. Gawala is losing his business to big milk processing plants. The biggest of these is Nestle. Similarly the local kasab is losing to companies like Zenith and Metro. The reason that the capitalistic corporations give to lure the customers is mainly quality. They claim that the local kasab and gawala sell adulterated products. Both add water to their products to increase profit. I would concede that it is generally true in case of gawala and in some cases of kasab also.
Now consider what will happen when both the gawala and kasab cannot compete with the capitalistic corporations and go out of business like mochi. They will suffer for sure, but let us be callous and ignore their suffering. After all they were selling us adulterated products so they deserve to go out of business. What do you think these capitalistic corporations will do to us, their customers, once the local kasabs and gawalas are gone? They will jack up the prices, because then we will not have any local kasab or gawala as an alternative. As we have seen capitalism produces monopolies, the allusion of competition is just that, an illusion.
In the current situation we have huge number of people in both businesses. Just consider the annual sacrifice we make at Eid-ul-Idha. How many animals are sacrificed? Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people are involved in raising these animals in remote parts of the country. Then these people sell these animals to middlemen who bring it to the cities. The transporters are involved in this transportation process. Finally on the Eid day thousands of kasab are employed to sacrifice the animals. If we allow the kasabs to go out of business then this huge enterprise will be consolidated in few capitalistic hands like Zenith. The non-commercial disadvantages of that situation are numerous; our kids will never see (apart from a clips on Facebook ) how animals are sacrificed, for them Eid will be when we bring four extra bags of meat from Zenith. The negative effects on environment due to industrial scale animal raising is well documented. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimated that livestock are responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, a bigger share than that of transport (http://www.fao.org/a...ine/0612sp1.htm). Similarly the milk business involves a huge number of people. Once again if we allow them to go out of business we will be left at the mercy of Nestle and it’s like. I would invite, those who doubt, to search how some of these capitalistic organizations got babies addicted to powdered baby milk formula ( http://archive.babym.../babykiller.pdf). A related, but bigger disaster to industrial scale animal raising is corporate farming, which is being promoted in Pakistan as a panacea and as a tool for lifting poor out of poverty. Those who have any illusion about what corporate farming is really about should read “Hungry for Profit: The Agribusiness Threat to Farmers, Food and the Environment” Edited by Fred Magdoff, John Bellamy Foster and Frederick H. Buttel.
Unfortunately our educated class is infatuated with technology, mass production, scalability. If you throw these words in any proposal the chances of it being approved increases in direct proportion to how many times you use these words in your proposal. The reality is that we should sit back and take a broader perspective as to which technology we should get, is mass production good for us in every field/industry, is scalability a holy virtue that we should strive for in every situation? These things are compulsion in graying western civilization. Most of the western world has rapidly aging populations. The median age in Europe is 40+ while ours is 22.6 years. We have 112 million ( about 57% of our population) people in 15-55 years age bracket. Europe cannot afford to have manual kasabs they have to have mechanized meat plants. They have built and installed those in their countries in amounts that they needed, so what to do with the factories which build these plants? Sell the huge meat processing plants to folks like us, who would buy every shiny machine that the western salesman pitches to us, whether we need it or not. Capitalism gets triple benefit out of this. 1) It keeps their factories, which makes those big shiny toys running 2) they put us under debt because most of these shiny toys are bought with debt money 3) enslaves us to their dictates, because once we lose our local skills and methods we have no choice but to accept their terms and conditions or else our plants (which are really their plants on our soil ) will not run.
The role of media in the propagation of capitalistic aims and objectives is very insidious. It blatantly attacks traditional order and provides subtle support to capitalistic enterprise. You must have seen reports and features on bad kasabs and gawals in both electronic and print media. Have you ever seen a negative report on Nestle, Pepsi, Zenith, Coke, Exxon, Shell etc. Do you think that all of them are angels and are sinless? Obviously not. But they provide the energy that keeps media running via advertisement. The local kasab and gawala cannot provide this energy to the media. Have you ever seen advertisement from a local kasab or gawala on TV? As such the media portrays them in the worst possible manner. Every bad report on local kasab and gawala implicitly makes the capitalistic alternates look really good and appealing. The explicit part is then done by the corporations directly by advertisement. First a TV channel will show a highly sensational “investigative” report on how local gawals are mixing really dirty looking bad stuff in the milk. All the while a really annoying sound track is played in the background. When your mind is fully prepared then an ad in the commercial break will appear. In the ad you will see beautiful, clean, very whitish kids, with their parents and grandparents and a very soothing voice will inform you that Nestle is “pure life”
Fortunately we are at a point where we have not lost all to global capitalism yet. Our leaders are rapidly pushing us in that direction in the name of progress but like in almost all fields, thanks to corruption, the progress is slow. So we have a God sent opportunity to take stock of our situation and think of ways to fight this global menace.
As we said earlier the most lethal weapon that these capitalistic corporations possess is capital. They use capital both as a weapon and as a reward to subjugate us. “Look if you let us implement our policies you will become ‘advanced’ and we will give you so many billions of dollars” they say. And through our educated class they have already brainwashed us into thinking that the amount of dollars is what matters ultimately and progress means automation, mass production etc. We do not realize that this, interest based, debt generated paper money is a fraud (Please see note at end). And worse part is that this fraud is now being Islamized by so called Islamic banking and Islamic finance. Other than the superficial prefix of Islam, practically there is no difference between the two. So we need to confront this fraud monetary/financial system and explain its reality to our people. Some of the proponents of Islamic banking/finance say that this is short term solution and is needed to provide an alternative. These folks are either deluding themselves or others; I am not sure which is it. What we are sure of is that on 29th October 2013, British Prime Minister David Cameron, announced that he wants city of London be become a hub of global Islamic finance and that London Stock Exchange will launch an Islamic Market Index (https://www.gov.uk/g...inisters-speech). Why do you think that a British PM has become so fond of Sharia? Because the fox knows very well that in reality it is the same capitalistic system and as such poses no real threat to them. Moreover they can control and manipulate it much easily if they are in control of the numbers, much like the manipulation of LIBOR.
The ethical short comings in our society in general, and in our business people particularly are a reality that we have to accept. MNCs use this excuse to malign our local businesses in our own eyes and ultimately take over. We can go on and on about adulteration in food, deception in weights and measures, frauds in contract etc, but that won’t solve the problem. We have to revive the Islamic teachings in this area and the imams in our mosques are the best way for this. A significant percentage of Pakistanis do attend Jumma. It is during the Jumma khutba that the imams should emphasize the importance of fair business. We know this problem will not go away with a couple of sermons, but until we get a state where Sharia is implemented this is the least we can do. Prophet Shoaib (PBUH) admonished his nation regarding similar business practices but they did not pay any attention and were destroyed. Similarly if our business people do not change their habits they will also face destruction in the form of capitalistic onslaught.
A related issue is the growing individualism in our society. Capitalism thrives on and promotes individualism because it generates an atomized society. If you live in a family which has children, parents and grandparents then you don’t need child day care centers, old people homes. One meal is shared between three generations, the effort to prepare, the utensils needed in the process, the energy consumed in the process etc is all shared. On the other hand if you split the family, then you will need money to pay strangers to take care of your children and grandparents in private child care and old people homes, once again, funneling money into capitalist structure. On a philosophical level an atomized society is much easier to control and manipulate, because members of such a society are afraid of and on guard from each other. But every human being needs protection and support in his/her hour of need. In a capitalistic society this need for protection and support is provided by capitalistic institutions like insurance companies. Islam puts this responsibility on the family. When it was brought to the notice of Hazrat Umer that no one is caring for an old man he inquired about his children. He was told that the old man has no children. He further inquired about any other relatives to which he was informed that the old man has a nephew. Hazrat Umer ordered the nephew to take care of the old man. Umer could have easily set a stipend for the old man but that would have violated the order of responsibility in an Islamic society.
Every society has a set of core beliefs around which it organizes itself. Those beliefs act like gravitational pull and keep the society intact. If the members of the society lose faith or have weak faith in those beliefs then the society disintegrates and reorganization takes place around new belief system. The interim period is marked by chaos, lawlessness, violence etc. I believe we are in such a period. Our belief in Tauheed, Quran & Sunnah is very weak. I know people will challenge me and point me to superficial facts like growing number of mosques, number of people going to Hajj (), religious channels on TV etc. But as we said these are superficialities, if we really believed in Tauheed, Quran & Sunnah then we would not fall in the capitalistic trap. The very fact that capitalism is taking over our society is a proof that the god of capitalism is replacing Allah in our hearts. We may deny it all we want to but our desires for fancy houses, cars, clothes, shopping malls etc. clearly point to where our belief lies. “Your craze for more and more and mutual rivalry for worldly gains has made you heedless. Until (in the same craze) you reach the graves.” ( Quran 102:1,2 )
Note : Here are some quotes from people who are very well acquainted with this system:
"Banks lend by creating credit. They create the means of payment out of nothing."
Ralph M. Hawtrey, former Secretary of the British Treasury
“The modern banking system manufactures money out of nothing. The process is perhaps the most astounding piece of sleight of hand that was ever invented. Banking was conceived in iniquity (injustice) and born in sin. Bankers own the Earth. Take it away from them, but leave them the power to create money, and with the flick of the pen they will create enough money to buy it back again...
Take this great power away from them and all great fortunes like mine will disappear, and they ought to disappear, for then this would be a better and happier world to live in. But if you want to continue to be slaves of the banks and pay the cost of your own slavery, then let bankers continue to create money and control credit’.”
Sir Josiah Stamp Director, Bank of England 1928-1941
(reputed to be the 2nd richest man in Britain at the time)
“The study of money, above all other fields in economics, is one in which complexity is used to disguise truth or to evade truth, not to reveal it.”
John Kenneth Galbraith , economist, author, Money: Whence it came, where it went - 1975, p15