Economic Growth without Distributive Justice Breeds Violence


Economic Growth without Distributive

Justice Breeds Violence

Imdad Hussain

In a real sense, all life is interrelated. The agony of the poor impoverishes the rich; the betterment of the poor enriches the rich. We are inevitably our brother’s keepers because we are our brother’s brother. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. — Martin Luther King


Economic growth is the harbinger of progress and prosperity. Needless to say, it is to be reckoned that distributive justice must be part and parcel of the distribution process in a society. If there is uneven distribution, inequalities will breed that may lead to rampant violence. The menace has widespread impacts. At the individual level, economic disparities beget class differences. The widened gap between the haves and the have-nots, as a result, leads to class struggle. The resultant class conflict, owing to stark differences and discontent, breeds violence. Apart from this, abject poverty becomes widespread in the event of unjust distribution of economic benefits. This paves way for increased ratio of social crimes which, in turn, fuels the scourge of violence. In fact, the un- or underprivileged populace becomes easy prey for the terrorists. At the national level, economic injustices ensue in civil conflicts, and youth bulge leads to aggression and terror. Also, domestic violence becomes commonplace for women as they are not at par with men in terms of economic empowerment. Lopsided economic dispensation, at the international level, even instigates inter-state wars. History is replete with examples, where states have fought wars either for economic advantages or to achieve parity at the economic level. However, there are certain factors that fuel the violent behaviour of individuals, groups, and states. Absence of trickle-down effect, capitalism and untamed globalization, unbridled corruption, are but a few examples of those. 

Historically speaking, the American Revolution and the US Civil War, as well as the Bolshevik Revolution occurred only due to sheer economic injustices committed by the ruling classes. In order to achieve a society devoid of violence, pacifying measures such as trickle-down effect, circulation of wealth and harnessing of globalization must be taken. This is the only way to nip the evil of violence in the bud.

Economic disparities beget class difference

At individual level, the economic gulf between the people creates a class-ridden society. The differences between the haves and the have-nots spur class struggle. Eventually, the have-nots resort to violence that takes culminates in either a peaceful or a bloody revolution. In fact, the gap between the two clusters of society exists only because of unjust distribution of wealth among the members of the society. Economics, according to Karl Marx, the eminent German philosopher who is the founder of modern communism, is the base of society. The other societal institutions such as education, politics and social standing depend upon the base. The stronger the base, the better the social standing. It implies that all other institutions are dependent on the institution of economy. This secret is well known to the bourgeoisie or the elite for they take over the mode of production in order to maintain their dominance in other domains. The proletariats believe that they are being exploited systematically to create a dependence-like situation. Consequently, they revolt to unravel the chains of slavery and revolutions, thus, break out with or without bloodshed to overhaul the society. This cycle of struggle has been there in all societies and will remain forever; as Karl Marx opines: “The history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggle.”c7184e16748071.562b0b32533cc

Uneven distribution leads to abject poverty

The menace of poverty becomes widespread when economic dividends do not reach the lower stratum of the society. And, it is a well-known fact that poverty, being a curse, has a multiplier effect as it breeds other social evils. The rampant social evils, in turn, disturb the social order. Crimes such as robbery, snatching, kidnapping for ransom, and theft are committed by those who are deprived of their economic rights. Consequently, those who are less privileged resort to illegal means to make both ends meet. They believe that this would help them improve their life. As a matter of fact, these illegal means encompass elements of violence which surges when poverty increases in society and the subsequent social order is disturbed. For that reason, Marcus Aurelius calls the poverty mother of all crimes.

Economic injustices result in the ballooning of terrorism

The deprivation of their economic rights creates a sense of alienation among the people. As a result, the alienated people succumb to false promises of terrorists. According to a report published in a national daily, the underprivileged are easy prey for the terrorists who, in exchange for security and a better life, join proscribe organizations. Ultimately, they become walking time bombs that can explode at any time to wreak havoc on society. The poverty-stricken people, due to inferior economic conditions, inflict violence on the demand of their masters without taking into account the potential dire consequences. Poverty is a great motivator, writes Kegley in World Politics, for allegiance to armed groups that promise security and improved standard of life.

Armed conflicts are the products of economic and status deprivation

“People deprived of their status and economic wellbeing act to address their grievances. This results in frequent armed conflicts where there are a youth bulge and a deprived population. The number of armed conflicts in the Global South is high because of economic deprivation and widespread youth bulge. — Introduction to International Relation by Joshua S. Goldstein

On the contrary, the global north is relatively at peace due to their well-off status and improved conditions of life. The brutal aggression carried out by Naxalites, in India and Tamil Tigers, in Sri Lanka, were stark examples of armed groups fighting for their economic shares.

Unevenly distributed economic gains spawn domestic violence

Domestic violence is directly linked to disproportionate division of economic dividends. For long, the patriarchal societies, like Pakistan, India and others, have subjugated women by making them dependent on their male relatives—father, brother, husband and son—for financial assistance. The crippling of women owing to economic conditions is manmade and it endangers their right to live as a free individual. Ultimately, they have to compromise on their other rights as well. The friction between men and women then increases as a result of which man directs violence to suppress woman’s voice. She is confined within the four walls of her house.

Economic disparities result in the outbreak of wars

One of the prime causes of inter-state wars is economic inequalities. States have been fighting each other to achieve economic superiority. The great world wars, i.e. WWI and WWII, were fought to achieve economic superiority. The recent trade war between China and the United States is also a manifestation of rivalry for economic superiority. Previously, states would fight for territorial domination as the latter was deemed as a sign of superiority. Since the advent of globalization, the trend has changed, and nation-states are now acquiring wealth to enhance their influence on the international level. Economic advancement is now seen as a zero-sum game rather than a win-win situation. 

In a nutshell, uneven distribution of economic resources, whether at the societal level or at the nation-state level, is bound to breed violence.

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