In order to overcome poverty, it is necessary for all humanists in the world to unite.
Since the origin of the humanist parties inspired by the current of thought of New Humanism or Universalist Humanism, also known as the Humanist Movement, we maintain that humanity is in a position to solve in the short term, the problems throughout the planet linked to food, health, clothing, decent housing and education.
If this scenario of cruelty and inequality in which humanity lives has not been overcome, it is simply because of the anti-values of the materialistic culture that radiates from the summits of real power, which has at its centre the monstrous speculation of big capital that continues to impede it.
Absurdly, a large part of humanity continues to live without being able to satisfy its basic material needs; there are billions of people whose most basic human rights are violated. There is a consensus in the international community that when people live in poverty, they experience dangerous and precarious working conditions, insufficient income, insecure housing, lack of nutritious food, very limited access to health care and education. The social lack of even one of these needs and the material impossibility of being able to earn the income necessary to satisfy it characterises this condition of poverty.
It was recently the 29th anniversary of the declaration of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, a date created by the United Nations General Assembly on 22 December 1992.
Since then, the UN has developed numerous annual actions on the theme of poverty. In the course of the past year 2021, the central theme was: “Acting together to achieve social and environmental justice for all people”. Once again, we see in practice that the preaching of this international organisation, which is full of good intentions, has almost no impact on events.
At the same time, other organisations, which are used by Big Capital to support the current inhuman system, have announced the worst possible scenarios. In April 2021, the “World Economic Outlook” report of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) foresaw disruptions in the global supply chain, rising transport costs, shortages of intermediate goods, rising commodity prices and inflationary pressures in many economies.
The IMF estimated that developing countries would not be relieved of their debt pressures.
What the IMF report assumed some time ago has been part of the painful reality for months now. So far in the current pandemic, 64 countries have spent more on servicing their external debt than on health care. A clear example of how securing the profits of the world’s bondholders is a priority, while the vast majority of the world’s people suffer appalling health services.
The debts driven by Big Capital establish one of the largest systems of transferring the wealth generated by the people into the hands of the minorities that manage the corrupt and violent order of the international financial system. The indebtedness of families, companies and governments continues its unstoppable growth and exceeded 360% of the world’s GDP at the end of 2020, according to data provided by the International Institute of Finance (IIT).
Another recent study, “The State of Food Insecurity and Nutrition in the World”, by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), states that “almost one in three people living on the planet (2.37 billion) did not have access to adequate food in 2020, which represents an increase of almost 320 million people in this situation in just one year”.
A few years ago (2015) the UN member states adopted seventeen “Sustainable Development Goals”, they called this resolution: “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. The first of these declared goals was “the end of poverty”; before the start of the Covid19 pandemic, the UN already admitted that the goals would not be met by 2030, not even the most basic of them, that of eradicating hunger from extreme poverty.
Humanists insist that all the objective, material conditions are in place for the rapid eradication of poverty throughout the world. It is a matter of making available to the people the resources that the people themselves produce and redirecting others that only bring meaninglessness and destruction.
When we talk about the resources that already exist, we are referring to the waste of more than 25% of the food that is produced, to the millions of unused houses that we find on every continent. When we talk about redirecting resources, there are two that we specifically want to mention, one as unnecessary and the other as destructive. These two are luxury and military spending.
The luxury industry is centrally directed at the richest 1% of the population. The dominant companies linked to the luxury industry are based in Europe (Italy, France, Great Britain, Switzerland, among others). Among the dominant companies in this market are Porsche, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Chanel, Hermès, Ferrari, Rolex and Dior.
According to data from McKinsey & Company, an international consultancy specialising in the subject, the luxury trade is worth US$ 300 billion a year. According to estimates by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), it would be enough to increase spending on overcoming world hunger by only US$ 30 billion (10% of annual luxury spending) to eliminate this social crime.
In the context of the Covid 19 pandemic, global military spending in 2020 amounted to US$1.981 trillion worldwide, an increase of 2.6% year-on-year, while global GDP fell by 4.4%. Lockheed Martin Corp; Raytheon Technologies; Boeing; Northrop Grumman Corp; General Dynamics Corp and BAE Systems top the list of the companies that profit most from armament, all based in the USA, and under the control of Western finance capital, the same that is responsible for the disproportionate increase in the price of food and the very limited access to vaccines against covid 19, by the most oppressed countries.
The figures illustrate the coexistence of poverty, opulence and destructive spending that we see to a greater or lesser extent on a daily basis in all latitudes. Overcoming poverty is not a question of “whether we can achieve it or not”, it is a question of “whether we really want to do it”.
It is clear that it will not be the oppressive leaders of the current powers that will succeed in changing the state of affairs, because they are the ones who sustain the relationship of oppression, wealth and poverty.
We humanists maintain that the people have already worked hard enough to eliminate poverty and that the international financial system and the materialistic culture promoted by the real powers that be constitute the greatest obstacles to overcoming the infamy of poverty.
It is the great oppressed majorities who have to rebel against the violence that has been installed, questioning the arguments that sustain Capitalism. The supporters of this inhuman system always ask where the resources will come from and how productivity will increase, implying that the resources come from bank loans and not from the labour of the people.
Overcoming poverty must necessarily involve profound transformations in the mode of production, in the reorientation of resources and in social relations. The same must apply to the legal order and the role of the state apparatus, which must be placed at the service and benefit of society as a whole.
Once again, humanists affirm that in order to overcome poverty, the same is needed as in order to overcome so many other expressions of the current violent system. We need, in the broadest sense of the word, the unity in action of all humanists in the world.
International Coordination Team
Federation of Humanist Parties